Vintage Whites Market Returns to Utah for Fourth Year
Salt Lake City—If you’re a lover of vintage-style, upcycled furniture, antiques or handmade goods, you may have been at the Vintage Whites Market in Salt Lake City last weekend. The market, which started in May 2010 in Montana and came to Salt Lake in 2012, had its biggest year so far this year, bringing in close to 6,500 people.
“I love that [Vintage Whites Market] brings in a lot of businesses. It allows for a much different product than I might run into a typical show,” said Breanna Bergin, owner of Crazy Vintage Lady, a store Bergin describe as “if an antique store, a consignment shop and boutique had a baby.” Bergin has been a shopper at Vintage Whites Market for the past three years, and this year decided to get a booth at the market and become a seller.
“You have a lot of unique, creative displays. It’s all people who know what they’re doing,” she said. “[The market organizers] do well with who they pick—that’s what drove me to sell there. And I had such a good experience selling there. You also see how crazy it gets, so you see how monetarily it would go your way.”
Jana Roach and Vanessa Pleasants started the market in Pleasants’ garage in Montana in May 2010, with five vendors and 50 attendees. They’d intended to make the market a monthly event, but attendees had tripled by that June. Soon, they were forced to move the market to a field down the road from Pleasants’ house to keep up with demand. When Roach and her husband moved from Montana to Rock Springs, Wyoming—a city Roach compares to living on Mars, it felt so desolate—the couple began to take short vacations in Salt Lake City in their spare time. Soon after, they decided to see if the market would be a good fit for the city.
“[Salt Lake City is] such a cool, clean beautiful city. The third time we went, we thought: why not doing a market here? There was nothing like our market in Salt Lake City,” said Roach. “We took a huge leap of faith.”
Their faith in the Salt Lake City market paid off. The 2012 Vintage Whites Market in Salt Lake City was the biggest market Roach and Pleasants had put on at that time, with roughly 2,700 people. The two organizers scour Etsy and antique stores for local vendors to join the market and pour their efforts into making a memorable social media advertisement campaign, hiring an illustrator and graphic designer to make sure their message is clean and attractive. Many of their vendors are still local, although the market’s success—now expanding into Colorado and Kansas City—have made a small core begin to travel with the show.
“[The organizers] are smart! The other thing I really feel is that they’re really smart with how they advertise. The understand that social media is a great tool for them. They’re very savvy. Probably one of the best advertisers for a show that I’ve ever seen,” said Bergin. “It’s a show that nobody had heard of to people making an average of $2500 for a single space.”
The market is also an excellent place for online-only shops to get valuable face time with potential customers. Many Etsy-based or Instagram-based stores had booths at the market, including the recently-opened Plum Cakery, owned by Alexis Halland.
“I just moved from Montana [to Utah] in August. We haven’t been here for very long,” said Halland. “[The market] gave us a lot of exposure. We had a lot of people. We were selling products—and then people came up and asked about wedding cakes.”
While the Vintage Whites Market is generally for furniture, antiques and other vintage-style home goods, Roach said often they will invite a small number of handmade makers—like Halland’s Plum Cakery, and previously a florist selling fresh-cut flowers from the back of a vintage truck.
“We try to limit them only because we know that people are primarily there for antique and vintage. But there are people who love to come and shop, but also want to go get these beautiful little pies and cookies,” said Roach. Halland has said that already, from the Vintage Whites Market, she has orders and cake tastings set up.
Roach also continued to say that having flowers and small-batch food vendors also creates a more family-friendly feel at the market, which both she and Pleasants love.
“A lot of our clients have families, so we want them to know we want them to bring their kids,” said Roach. In the Salt Lake City market, there was a magic show, and in the Montana shows, the market includes maypoles and pony rides.
Ultimately, said Roach, the market is about creating more exposure for the community and making connections. She said she is the most gratified by seeing companies carving out relationships with each other and with potential clients.
“We’re proud of the community we’ve cultivated and local businesses supporting one another, and using this as another profile for marketing,” said Roach. “We encourage our vendors to curate their booths and make them beautiful. If you have a bunch of stuff just sitting on a table, you can’t visualize that in your home. But if the vendors are styling their booths and curating them, you can say: I want this whole setup in my home and I know I can recreate it because I’ve seen it here.”
Photos courtesy of Melissa Leavitt Photography.