'A different taste of Detroit' pops up in weekend market
Nov 24, 2012 (Menafn - Detroit Free Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Susan Rutherford of San Diego was among the throngs of people who piled into Kohl's in Troy when the store opened at midnight on Black Friday.
On Friday afternoon, she was among a subdued crowd at the Wonderfest -- a marketplace of unique vendors -- in a temporary shelter set up across from Campus Martius in downtown Detroit.
"This is a much, much more pleasant experience," said Rutherford, who was in town to visit her sister, Karen Fischer, 55, of Bloomfield Township. "Shopping at midnight with long lines to even get in the store, and bumping into people just to move around was just crazy. We were probably in line over an hour just to check out. There were just too many people."
The two sisters didn't have that concern Friday at the Wonderfest.
A steady stream of customers perused the shops, but there was plenty of space to browse and shop without bumping into anyone else.
Many of the customers said they were attracted to Wonderfest by the desire to support local artists and independent shop owners and avoid mall madness.
"I like art fairs and the idea of one-of-a-kind places and supporting local artists. I'm all about that," Fischer said. "Besides, I wanted to give my out-of-town relatives a different taste of Detroit."
Rutherford bought wine mixers from Nectar of the Vine, which offers assorted flavors of mixes for alcoholic beverages. Flavors include cranberry, margarita and peach mango.
They sell for 12 each or three for 30 and are also available on the website www.nectarofthevine.net .
Her son, Matthew Rutherford, 22, bought a skateboard for 107 from the Detroit Surf Co..
"I like the fact that it's marked 'Detroit' and the price was right," said Rutherford, a student at San Francisco State University. "This place reminds me of a market back home."
Fischer said one of the aspects she enjoys about Wonderfest is meeting the people who make and create the products.
Among them was Bernetta Waller, owner of A Proud Mother Candles, a business she started in 2009.
She makes soy candles in more than 30 fragrances, including cucumber melon, fresh linen and jasmine.
Some of them are placed in decorative handblown glass containers that she also makes. Prices range from 5 to 100. Her standard candles sell for 13.
This marks the second year A Proud Mother Candles has been at the two-year-old Wonderfest.
"It's really nice here," said Waller, 26. "People like supporting local artists, and I am a daughter of the city.
"You just have to make sure you dress appropriately," said Waller, noting that despite the heated space, the interior is cold because the tarp-covered, tent-like shelter is not well-insulated.
Also, a few of the businesses are outdoors.
She sells at art shows, stores in Michigan and six other states and via her website, www.aproudmothercandles.com .
Radio host Frankie Darcell of WMXD-FM (92.3) broadcasted her show live from Wonderfest on Friday.
She said she enjoyed it because it allowed her to work and shop during breaks.
She purchased an African congo drum for her brother, and a scarf for herself and salsa from Jose Madrid Salsas, directly across the hall from where she was set up.
Native Detroiters Ernest and Jenel Wyatt visited Wonderfest after ice-skating at Campus Martius with their two children, Camille, 8, and Malcolm, 5.
The family who now lives in Silver Spring, Md., purchased hot mini-doughnuts and hot chocolate at Wonderfest.
"I'm impressed with all the unique, made-in-Michigan products," Jenel Wyatt said. "We like buying in the city and shopping in the city as much as possible."
"It's nice to see positive developments in Detroit," Ernest Wyatt said. "I'm glad to see people supporting the city."
Wonderfest is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. today and noon-8 p.m. Sunday, its last day.
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