It’s sideways raining and the sun has yet to rise, but the diehard fans are already there. They’ve camped out, patiently sipping hot beverages, knowing it will be hours before the doors open. For most of them, this isn’t their first rodeo.
But don’t be fooled by the jovial demeanors and air of camaraderie; their elbows are sharp and they are set to pounce. Security corrals the line and lends a hand to those who can’t contain their excitement.
This isn’t the story of the hottest concert or launch of the latest gadget. It’s Squamish’s very own Refresh Market. An event that welcomes over 3000 visitors and 100 vendors for a highly memorable day of shopping (and earlybird giveaways worthy of braving the elements). What started as 25 sellers in the corner of the Squamish Adventure Centre, has grown into one of BC’s largest and most successful indie markets.
The Leading Ladies
So how is it that Squamish has come to host this world class creative event? Enter Rachel Boguski and Shannon Lorenz. Casual, yet tenacious. Independent but supportive. Down-to-earth, with hidden superpowers. The two will tell you that their differing skill sets, aligned work ethic and a combined total of 19 years in Squamish under their belts are just part of what makes them the perfect pair.
They are master multitaskers: moms, experts in event management and communications, freelancers, and the creators of a local market that has come to be a pretty big deal. Says Rachel, “We’ve been told by vendors that we’re talked about in the community as ‘the’ market to do, and that’s a great feeling. Even at that, we’re always looking to become better.”
Their success has been no accident. Rachel and Shannon speak passionately of their dedication to both the Refresh Market brand and the idea of building a creative community. They are the poster children for the possibilities of collaboration.
Rachel explains “Refresh Market was born from our shared goal of connecting a new community of local designers, makers, and small-business owners to our local community and create what we felt was missing in Squamish: a day of really good shopping.”
The Selection Process
There is a symbiotic relationship between the market and its vendors. As such, the selection process is not taken lightly.
Shannon and Rachel spend more than four months reviewing over 300 applications, and say that balancing categories, sticking to the feeling of “refresh” and not having space for everyone (even on their wait list), is a challenging process. But despite the downside, Rachel says they focus on the positives of the vision they’ve grown into fruition.
“It’s especially exciting when new applications come in from these amazing artists and makers who live here in Squamish that we’d never heard of.
That’s the kind of community we’ve aimed to create, and we feel fortunate that Refresh has become a launching pad for many creative locals. There is a lot of talent in our town.”
Beyond the Booth
For many vendors, this story is about far more than a weekend of booming sales. The market is a boost in inspiration, a place to connect and a way to expand; the starting point for lasting legacies in the community.
Gabrielle Livsey of Trae Designs was operating a daycare when she attended her first Refresh Market and was compelled take a chance on a new life: “Seeing so many makers sharing their passion for creating items they love has inspired me to find my own passion to share with the world.”
Gabby, who at the time had zero woodworking skills, has since built a business selling exquisitely designed children’s toys and is now 1/5th of the Squamish Makers Collective, a group of entrepreneurs who first connected at Refresh Market: “We hit it off instantly in that atmosphere of style, warmth, creativity and friendly people.
The market always inspires us to continue with what we are doing, and to find new ways to collaborate.”
These ideas of supporting small businesses and valuing collaborative opportunities are also evident in Refresh Market’s expanded offerings, like the launch of annual spin-off events Refresh Kids and Dinner Al Fresco (with Fergie’s Cafe).
And the market itself is ever-changing, as Shannon and Rachel seek new ways to grow and enhance the experience: “The introduction of market swag bags, an expanded food truck zone, fashion show, off-site networking and social events including a new ‘Movers + Makers’ series, online ticketing and a second market day have all been key steps we’ve taken in order to deliver what we feel is a top-notch experience.”
Visiting Refresh Market is about more than stocking up on special holiday gifts. It’s the culmination of hundreds of individual life’s works in one space. It’s an unspoken support system celebrating the ideas of many. It’s the success story of two hard working entrepreneurs. And it’s a positive place for the community to come together.
Friday, November 18 from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, November 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door, $3 online and free for kids under 12.
The first 30 guests will receive a Friday night welcome gift while quantities last. Or come early to receive one of 50 Refresh Market swag bags on Saturday.
New This Year:
Friday night (kinda, sorta locals night), shop before the rush. Visit the wine & cocktail bar with signature cocktails mixed by Kelly Ann Woods: local award-winning mixologist and owner of Gillespie’s Fine Spirits. Refresh Market with a drink. Yes, please!
And now you know. You’re welcome.