Arts Market Highlights Variety Of Boston’s Most Creative Vendors

Liquor Wicks – Dozens of bottles of Absolut, Fireball, Corona, Sam Adams, and Angry Orchard are lined up across the table as customers carefully bring the bottles to their noses. Instead of the sharp smell of hard liquor, they are enticed by soothing aromas of Mango Papaya and Macintosh Apple—the bottles are filled with wax, not alcohol.

Liquor Wicks uses organic soy to create custom liquor and wine bottle candles. The business has been operating for three years out of Fall River, Mass., but has found a second home in the South End Arts Market at SoWa. Its candles have been a popular gift item for customers visiting its table on Sundays over the past two years.

First, we take any glass bottle and cut the top off and resurface it,” said Megan McCarthy, the co-founder of Liquor Wicks. “Then we refinish it and resurface it into the container for the actual candles

The idea for Liquor Wicks started after McCarthy and Freddie Freeman both got fired from their previous jobs in the same week and decided to start a recycling company.

“We started getting all of these bottles and just couldn’t handle them all,” McCarthy said. “My grandparents owned a wine cellar back in the ‘70s, so my grandma always cut bottles and that gave us the first idea—then we just added the candles.”

Over the past three years, Liquor Wicks has been collecting bottles and making its products at its warehouse in Fall River. The company prides itself on being eco-friendly, with clean burning soy wax. Liquor Wicks has grown to offer 600 customizable options, and ships its products across the U.S.

Looking forward, McCarthy and Freeman hope to build a sales team to attend different events and beer festivals, and to expand the product overseas. The team is already shipping 300 bottles to an Australian company as promotional items in the near future.

Boston General Store – Natural wood crates lie stacked on tables housing items that range from leather bound journals to wild honey. The first booth at the South End Arts Market at SoWa greets browsers with a rustic guarantee that they will find something that they should have been looking for. Behind shelves of gold-plated flasks and beard oil stand April Gabriel and Owen Shea, both excited to see their customer’s reactions to the products into which they put so much thought and effort.

“This is our second time at SoWa, but our first full summer here,” said Gabriel, who started Boston General Store just last year with one new website and 10 products she believed in. Though at its outset her items were only bought by a few loyal friends, after a year and a half Boston General Store has expanded 10-fold—enough to allow her to quit her day job.

Gabriel now features more than a couple hundred simple and honest products, including Owen Shea’s line of hair and shave oils. Brothers Artisan Oil, led by Shea, creates multipurpose beard oil and male grooming products in hopes to benefit beards across the Boston area. “When we found our hair shinier, beards longer, and beds full, we decided it was time to bring our product to other worthy men. Use it in good manliness,” the company’s website reads.

Though Shea too only began selling his products just one year ago, he has found success in the partnership with Gabriel and Boston General Store that will soon translate into guaranteed shelf space. In three weeks, Gabriel is opening a brick and mortar location of Boston General Store in Brookline, Mass., complete with a natural soda fountain and, of course, all of her built-to-last products.

“We started with just an online shop, but here and in store we will be able to see how people react to our products,” Gabriel said. “Now I can see what they like and don’t like, and it really makes a difference for a small business.”

On The Fringe – Wendy Howard stands in the center of three crowded tables, politely directing her customers despite the overwhelming murmur of state names and clinking ceramic. People, young and old, search her stacks of decorated coasters and hot plates for their hometowns, dream vacations, college towns, and memories.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, at least 10 years,” Howard said about her products—ceramic trivets and tiles decorated with vintage maps, travel brochures, and atlas pages.

Now in her fifth year selling at the South End Open Market at SoWa, Howard’s company, On The Fringe, is a staple of the local Arts Market. Customers return to her booth to explore the piles of vibrant ceramics she arranges, according to geographic location, every Sunday.

During the week Howard scavenges estate sales and flea markets on Cape Cod for vintage maps and brochures depicting locations across the country and the world. Though it depends on where she is selling, her Boston-area coasters are her best sellers in the South End. Yet, she is continuously surprised to see the variety of places that her customers are interested in.

“Last week I sold out of something completely random, like Idaho,” she said. “The thing about Boston is that most people come from somewhere else.”

In addition to returning to the South End every summer, Howard sells her ceramics online and in stores. She is constantly trying new markets and art shows, and has even taught her son and his girlfriend how to make her crafts, which they are selling in Brooklyn.

Featured Images by Bennet Johnson / Heights Editor



September 10, 2015