The Yukon Made Store in the Qwanlin Mall has given new meaning to the concept of one-stop shopping.
Just standing at its front doors you are presented with an array of vendors selling their wares as the smell of warm, spicy, deep-frying falafel wafts through the air.
The relatively small, box-shaped store, contains roughly 25 vendors selling everything from falafel, alpaca wool socks, willow art, preserves, sauces and jams to jewelry, stained-glass art and paintings.
You can’t stroll more than a metre before bumping into a new display booth offering Christmas gift ideas: soap, candles … stocking stuffers galore.
Most of the vendors can be found during the summer months at the Fireweed Market at Shipyards Park, but they have all come together indoors for the Christmas season to sell their homemade goods in community fashion.
“You always want to sell stuff for Christmas time and this is an outlet for it,” said Joan Norberg, accountant and spokesperson for the Yukon Made Store. “But we’ve also become a community (at the Fireweed Market) and so you kind of go through withdrawals when the market ends, so it’s kind of nice to come here and schmooze, is the word I use, because you don’t see each other a lot of the time until the spring when we start the markets again.”
“I think what is happening down at Shipyards Park is a community builder and this is just an extension of it.”
Norberg has been watching people doing their Christmas shopping at the store since December 6.
“The place is busier than I expected,” said Norberg.
“I’m the one that gets to see the numbers and I was just blown away with it.
“There’s a huge variety and it doesn’t seem to matter if people have similar things.
“Three vendors here have soap and it’s three different kinds of soap and there’s no competition really, which is wonderful because usually people are here for the community and it’s a social aspect but it’s also what sells — that’s what they are trying to do.”
Is it a success?
“Yes, a resounding success,” said Norberg.
It will definitely be put together again if she can rustle up another place that she can rent for the month of December.
“I think the working together is probably the best part,” said Norberg.
“You can work some jobs and make more money, but the working together is the fun part, because I do my canning at home by myself and the artists are at home by their selves and then we come here and display what we’ve got — it’s the community and the working together.”
Norberg’s specialty is her Million Dollar Relish. It is an old family recipe passed down to Norberg and promises to be the best relish ever tasted.
Actually, everything at the Yukon Made Store is made in the territory, primarily Whitehorse.
That is very important, said Norberg.
The money paid for a painting, for instance, goes to an artist who lives here, she said.
It will be spent at the grocery store and is kept in the Yukon.
“But if I buy a painting that comes from somewhere else, that money goes somewhere else and we’re paying for the freight to bring it up here or the freight for it to go out,” said Norberg.
“In a lot of ways it’s our responsibility to keep the economy going because it isn’t the government’s responsibility … really we’ve got to do something. And I have nothing against stores that sell things from down south, but we need to support these artists because this is their livelihood.”
One such artist is Carolyn Campbell who spins alpaca wool and knits hats and winter socks.
Campbell spins her wool in the store while onlookers stare in wonderment as her ball of yarn gets bigger and bigger.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know what I’m doing,” she said.
“Little boys and men are especially attracted to my spinning.”
At the front of the store, cooking Lebanese falafel to be served in pita bread, is Gadi Katz.
“You get to meet people doing this,” said Katz.
“Talking to people makes me happy.
“Some people look for this kind of food and some people like to just watch people eating.”
Mike, who simply refers to himself as “The Stained Glass Guy” has quite a popular booth filled with hanging stained glass work — feathers, wave scenes, a sun scene and candle holders.
“We need some bright (light) up here in Whitehorse,” said Mike who has been creating stained glass artwork for eight years.
He normally makes his art in his country cabin outside Whitehorse and sells it through word-of-mouth advertising only.
This is the first time he has entered into a store setting.
The art and goodies are on sale in this venue until Saturday, December 23.
It is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.