Finding their niche: Second Saturday event offers more than foot traffic

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, July 11, 2023

SALISBURY — Many artists use the Second Saturdays in Salisbury to promote their brand and move merchandise, but one family is using the marketplace to help offset cancer treatment costs.

Laurie Hyatt discovered she had leukemia in 2020, right about the same time she and her husband Jim and daughter Jessica moved to Salisbury from Syracuse, New York.

Laurie said the weather in the South appealed to her as a recent retiree. With the cancer diagnosis and COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was rough for the Hyatts. While she does have insurance, Laurie points out that the bills started piling up.

“I take one pill in the morning,” Laurie said. “I am trying different things. They only last for two years, and then I have to try something else.”

The Hyatts’ vendor booth is called Meadow Tie Dye Company.

The name of their small business is derived from their address.

“We live on Meadow Lane,” Laurie said. “Jessica started it. She wanted to do something to help out with the medical bills.”

Jessica added, “It keeps our mind off of things, too.”

With tie-dye being a niche market, once Jessica discovered her knack for creating it, she decided to see if she could monetize her craft. On Saturday, the Hyatts were also selling bracelets that Laurie had made before her condition’s increased severity.

“I made them before I got sick and couldn’t do it anymore,” Laurie said. “I am getting better.”

Between the bracelets and the tie-dye shirts, Laurie said that proceeds still don’t cover her medical costs but offset other items they need and give them a chance to get out of the house.

“We are enjoying the weather today,” Laurie said.

When she is out and about, Laurie has to ride in a wheelchair, but she is not completely immobilized.

“Our house is one level, and I can get around there,” Laurie said.

The family has plans to continue trading Jessica’s craft.

“We just started doing craft shows,” Jessica said. “We look for them online and through word of mouth.”

The Hyatts are eyeing the Woodleaf Tomato Festival (in August) as their next marketplace setup. However, anyone interested in purchasing a tie-dye shirt or bracelet can call or text them at 704-223-4858.

Second Saturdays in Salisbury

When Michelle Pentoney and Julie Ruscica came up with the event, it was supposed to be a way to get artists and customers out of the house during the pandemic. It officially caught on a couple of years after the initial lockdowns.

Pentoney owns Hive & Co. in downtown Salisbury where Ruscica sells her embroidered products, Little Fox Knots.

“We love the big events, but they only happen so often,” Pentoney said. “We need things, especially during the summertime, to get people out to enjoy the downtown. We have such a walkable city.”

What started with about three vendors has grown to almost 20.

Ruscica said that the vendor list is constantly rotating by design and that they try to put them in unique locations around Salisbury during each event.

“There is always going to be that change in vendor list and host stores,” Ruscica said. “It’s going to be a little different every month. We want to make sure it doesn’t get stale.”

Each event features various vendors and artists who set up in front of downtown shops.

“We try not to put anyone in front of a store that competes with what they sell so that it complements rather than competes,” Pentoney said.

For Roots owner Marleigh Adams, the event has proven a positive incubator for her emerging business.

Having just opened three months ago, Adams was unsure what to expect with foot traffic and admits that some days have been slow. However, events like Second Saturdays in Salisbury are helping her new store gain some traction.

“I definitely see a lot of foot traffic,” Adams said. “(Friday) we had 10-15 people. This morning, I got a text saying we are having such a good morning. There have been so many people in here.”

Logan Childers was performing in front of Roots on Saturday.

“People love live music and vendors,” Adams said. “If they see something sitting out, they are like, what is that? And it gets them coming over.”

“It’s good business for the artists, musicians and us. People love events — any events we have had down here. People ask me how the business has been, and I have to cut right to the chase because we have had so many events this summer, and that has created so much foot traffic. I have been spoiled. I don’t know how the next few months will go, but these past ones have been awesome.”

For those vendors who don’t have brick-and-mortar locations, Second Saturdays in Salisbury serves the function of getting their name out there.

Rae Cozart is a Greensboro native and graduate of the School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. On Saturday, she was selling homemade crocheted items at her booth Cozart Craftz.

“I have been crocheting for about two years now, but I have a dance background,” Cozart said. “I have been doing a lot of fiber arts and visual arts since graduating. I think of myself more as a multi-disciplinary artist now. I have been expanding into doing prints and knitting.”

Artisan marketplaces are not her primary source of revenue, but she hopes one day it might be.

“I would like it to be my main source (of income),” Cozart said. “I would love to be a self-employed artist, but I also work at a thrift store right now. I do this on the side.”

That thrift store job did help her discover Second Saturdays in Salisbury, though, as Ruscica was doing an embroidery class at Reconsidered Goods, where Cozart works.

Next to Cozart was Lexington-based permanent jeweler Jonnie Thomas, who owns Dainty Dippitys. She became interested in permanent jewelry but was turned off by the high costs at various pop-up markets where it was available.

“I’m not going to charge that much,” Thomas said. “I charged $50 for my bracelets and $60 for anklets.”

A sale is important for Thomas, but the true prize is the interactions her job brings.

“I just like to have conversations with people,” Thomas said. “It gives people an opportunity to bring their mom or their grandmother, and everyone gets a little piece of jewelry. Every time they look at it, it reminds them of the memories they shared that day and gives them something they can always hold onto.”

Thomas’ booth could be mistaken for a welding shop. Her machine is just a micro version but still requires protective eyewear.

“I have a machine that creates a micro-weld,” Thomas said. “It has a little pin on it. I zap where I have joined the two parts of the bracelet together with a jump ring, and it bonds the two ends together.”

Other vendors at Second Saturdays in Salisbury are a little more established. Dessy Atwell’s Manifest Crystals & Creations business was operating long before the streetside marketplace began.

“I make earrings,” Atwell said. “They are charm earrings like you might see at a festival. I have a lot of crystals and minerals, gemstones.”

Atwell laughed at her unofficial moniker around Salisbury.

“I am the crystal dealer of Salisbury,” Atwell said.

She does most of her business online but gets out to every Second Saturdays in Salisbury event, wanting to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with her base and share her passion.

“All this stuff came out of the earth, which is just insane to me,” Atwell said. “I just love geology and gemology.”

If you want to sign up for Second Saturdays in Salisbury, go to the Instagram page @secondsaturdaysinsalisbury.

Message Little Fox Knots on Facebook if there are any other questions that the application doesn’t answer.