Crisp cotton pillows splashed with navigational coordinates, hand-lettered signs and vintage finds, beach glass jewelry and anchor accessories. The offerings at Avon Lake’s Summer Market all match the beach aesthetic of Erin Stack and Kristen Weeden, friends who founded the annual event in 2006.
That was before the premiere of the Cleveland Flea, before so many arts festivals, before the coastal farmhouse trend was ubiquitous. This year, Huron hosted a Lakeside Market. Vermilion Beach Market will host its second annual event at Sherod Park Aug. 3-4, with more than 60 vendors with vintage, shabby and chic decor including furniture, architectural salvage, jewelry, clothing, art and more. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Vermilion Parks & Recreation Department and to Vermilion in Bloom.
Since 2006, the Summer Market has grown from 20 vendors and 100 guests to 100 thoughtfully curated vendors and 10,000 visitors. Stack and Weeden — each of whom have four daughters — have founded Girls Give Back, to funnel all proceeds to deserving families.
The 2018 Summer Market takes place Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Avon Lake. See all the details.
The “Gift of Home” chooses a worthy family to give a fresh, clean home with new household items and an overall sense of comfort, serenity, and renewal. “A Day of Giving” shares $5,000 throughout the community in random acts of kindness.
So why did Stack and Weeden start the Summer Market? How they pick the vendors. Read on to for the answers in their own words.
Did you both grow up on Lake Erie?
Both of us grew up on the shore of Lake Erie — Erin in Lakewood and Kristen in Avon Lake. Erin majored in the arts, worked as an art teacher in Westlake for five years and then went home to raise her family. She spent the last 11 years at BAYarts designing and implementing arts programs for students of all ages, but recently stepped down this past fall and will launch something new at the Summer Market this year. After a year at Ohio State University, Kristen moved to California where she attended college part-time and was an innkeeper at a B&B in Santa Barbara. She moved back to Cleveland after five years and worked at the Glidden House until she started her family. Over the last 20 years, Kristen was hired to help a local B&B get started and has been commissioned to help decorate private homes in the area.
We became fast friends after meeting when our kids were together in preschool back in 2003. We both have four daughters, creative minds, a love for everything vintage and a call to help others. We have a lot in common!
Why did you start Summer Market?
We originally created the Summer Market as a way to raise funds for the Thomas Folger Home that sits at Veterans Park in Avon Lake. It was slated for demolition, like many other homes that sit along the lake and we felt strongly about preserving this beautiful piece of history. Once the home was saved and significant renovations were completed, we decided to share our funds with other individuals and organizations in need.
I feel like everybody’s talked about Summer Market in the last few years. Did the event take off immediately, or did it need a while to grow?
The Summer Market launched in 2006. Although that doesn’t seem like that long ago, you have to remember that social media hardly existed at that time. Instead of listing an event invite on Facebook and immediately getting thousands of guests interested, we relied on postcards, flyers, signage around town, emails to friends and an occasional newspaper article to get the word out. We prayed that people would hear about the event and attend. We also had to do some major research to find vendors that we thought might be a good fit. We spent hours and days on the phone calling vendors and begging them to give our event a chance.
Yes, it definitely took some time to grow and catch on and we are forever grateful to those vendors that took a chance on us 13 years ago. Who would have ever thought that we would have gone from 20 vendors with about 100 guests to 100 vendors with over 10,000 guests that visit Avon Lake from all over the country. It’s pretty amazing.
Everything has such a fantastic beachy, vintage vibe (which totally matches my aesthetic). How do you pick the vendors?
We both have had this aesthetic since the day we met and it is exactly what our homes emulate – vintage, beachy, relaxed. When we started this show 13 years ago, we quickly realized that we organically created a festival that WE would want to go to. We found ourselves selecting artists, makers, cool shop owners, salvage hunters, re-purposers, antiquers, flower designers, etc. that WE would want to shop with!
With over 300 applications to go through each year and only around 100 spaces available, we now have a handful of friends help us curate the show and assist us in selecting a diverse grouping of vendors. There are lots of applicants that fit our vibe and we painstakingly try to make selections knowing that someone’s feelings are at stake. That is hard for us. We realize that everyone is passionate about what they create. When going through the applications, we try very hard not to over-saturate a specific art and we consistently look for fresh ideas. Because there are so many other events in the area happening now, we also try to grab a good chunk of out-of-town vendors that will bring something new to our area.
How do you feel about other summer markets, like in Huron or Vermilion, popping up?
The whole market and maker movement has really exploded since the Summer Market was founded back in 2006. When we started, the word market seemed so original to us! There were just a few shows, most well-known were the St. John Westshore Arts Festival, Lakewood Arts Festival and Cain Park. These shows celebrated fine artists and we wanted to change it up a bit and create a show for the makers, the hunters and the cool shop owners. There really was nothing like this at the time.
We are very excited that the movement to support artists, crafters and makers has become such an important part of our economy. Markets and fleas and arts festivals all support the artists and makers and allow them to continue living a life that they love… and we love that!
Anything new this year at the market that we should watch out for?
This year we are both setting up shop in the Folger Home that sits in the park, the home we saved from demolition. Kind of a full-circle moment! It is a Marketplace (a little shop) with a relaxed coastal vibe – all curated by us!
We will have more vendors than ever this year, and several of them are new ones. We are excited about bringing in Cleveland powerhouses FOUNT and Lush & Lovely Floristry. Also new this year we have coastal brands Lyman Life and Erie & Anchor. New on the food scene are the Cleveland Field Kitchen, Manna Truck, Bigmouth Donut Company, Burning River Baking Co. and Fat T’s Cookies.
For music this year, Half Moon Jack will play from 5-9 p.m. Friday and the Nautical Theme will play 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
I love the Girls Give Back aspect of the market. How do you make the Gift of Home happen?
Once summer is over and we have our girls back to school, we sit down with some tea and talk about the Summer Market and discuss ways in which we might use the proceeds of the event.
When it is the Gift of Home year, we put our feelers out and ask people in the community if they might know of a family in need. Finding a family is actually harder than you might think. Many people are private and hesitant about asking for help. Eventually, we find that perfect match. Each project has been so different and each so important to our families and our crew. It is a very spiritual and private weekend…one that not only touches the family, but everyone involved on the project. We have contractors that get involved when we ask for their help and more often than not, they end up wanting to stay for the rest of the weekend. That “do good” feeling is contagious!
Your daughters call themselves the Market Chicks look like so much fun! What do they like best about the event?
The girls love everything about the Summer Market and don’t ever allow us to consider it being our “final year.” They told us the things they love are meeting the new vendors and visiting with the ones they grew up with, setting up and preparing for the big day and then working all weekend long. They did admit that they are not fond of the clean-up at the end of a long weekend!
They especially love that it is a fundraiser to help others and that something has become so successful because of their moms.