Friday 27 November, 2020

Bits and pieces for Christmas: Artisan market kicks off on November 28

Del Mano table at Bits and Pieces 2019.

Del Mano table at Bits and Pieces 2019.

Bits and Pieces is a 100 per cent local artisan market that began over a decade ago as a small event among friends to showcase locally made products. The first show was a simple one hosted in a friend’s patio and over the years it has grown into one of the most sought-after local artisan Christmas markets with over one hundred handpicked vendors.

Bits and Pieces founder Vanessa Dalla Costa started the market as a means of selling her own unique handcrafted mosaic products as well as products from fellow artisans who did not have a space of their own.

Like many artisans, she initially tried getting her products onto shelves at local stores but was always met with the same reluctance due to the cost of the items. “Stores don’t want to stock your items because they think it’s too expensive,” was a phrase she often heard from shop owners despite customers finding her affordable.

Realising that shop owners did not want to operate on a lower mark-up and looking for options she started Bits and Pieces in 2009.

As demand for space in the market grew Dalla Costa stuck to her original vision of the market being exclusively 100 per cent locally made and produced items. Each potential vendor is specially selected and vetted to ensure that shoppers find the highest quality items they won’t get anywhere else and that vendors get exclusivity in their category. It’s a process that takes the entire year.

Dalla Costa explained “I like to give the customers a variety. I spend the year looking for unique items to add to our existing product offering. When you come to Bits and Pieces, you’ll find such a wide range that no two vendors are doing the same thing.”

Shoppers coming to this year’s market will find a wide range of items, from hand-sculpted furniture, local wood and resin pieces, clay products, ceramics, stained glass art, mosaics, photographers, artists, fashion and interior décor, personal care, books and speciality foods.

There is such a wide, unique assortment that there’s something for everyone, from babies to grandparents. There are things you won’t find anywhere else and it’s all reasonably priced.

Dalla Costa is proud of what Bits and Pieces has grown to represent – a place where the talent and ingenuity of T&T artisans are on full display. She’s seeking to change the perception that an item made in Trinidad is of a lesser quality than what can be found widely available abroad.

“I go to markets abroad and we are on par, we have great products and the workmanship is excellent.”

We have some of the best chocolatiers, leatherworkers and artists. You will find Trinis producing top-of-the-line products in a whole range of categories and as you shop the market there will be many unique pieces and surprises.

Dalla Costa said more than ever now there’s a need for people to get behind local artisans and support their work as it’s a massive benefit to the economy.

“People think things made in Trinidad are not good quality. We need to change this image and to preserve our foreign exchange and support our local artisans. We don’t need all the foreign stuff. What we need to do is support what is ours.”

This year, the event will once again take place at its usual location at Fiesta Plaza, Movie Towne, Port-of-Spain, but will have vendors both in the Ballroom and outdoors. It will also incorporate tenants at the mall.

Dalla Costa said this year’s event will adhere to established COVID-19 regulations.

Temperature checks will be done at the door and all patrons must wear masks and sanitise on entry.

She said there are enough vendors to keep things “socially distanced” as they’re spread out across three levels.

She urged those coming out to the market to follow all guidelines and stay home if ill.

Ushers and security personnel will be on hand to ensure crowd control. Movie Towne staff will also be on hand to assist.

To avoid any lines building up, patrons will be encouraged to circulate across the three floors.

Check out Bits and Pieces on November 28 from 9am to 4pm and stay connected via its Facebook and Instagram pages for new developments.

All photos provided by Vanessa Dalla Costa.

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