What does it take to pull off Georgetown’s Market Days? Step into Laurie Wendel’s shoes and find out.
Something magical happens in the early mornings on the second Saturday of March through November: Historic downtown Georgetown transforms into an open-air market.
If you’ve attended a Downtown Georgetown Association’s Market Day, you’ve certainly seen crafters, artisans, and food and retail vendors from around Texas, lining the streets to peddle their wares. You’ve probably heard musicians serenade shoppers with live music—from instrumental jazz to strong country vocals. And you may even have spotted Laurie Wendel, the lead coordinator behind Georgetown’s ever-growing pop-up market.
Then again, perhaps you haven’t.
Like a hungry hummingbird, on Market Days Laurie is seemingly everywhere at once, vibrating along Georgetown’s 7th and 8th Streets, chatting with vendors and quelling any issues that may arise. It takes supreme verve to coordinate more than 80 vendors and pull off such a sizeable monthly event, but on nine Saturdays a year, Laurie accomplishes just that with the help of Bob Case, DGA’s second coordinator.
Georgetown View was curious to see what it takes to pull off such an event, so we shadowed Laurie on a typical Market Day:
4:30 AM: Rise and shine
Long before Saturday morning cartoons have begun, Laurie is up and at ’em, drinking her morning coffee and preparing for what will become a fast-paced blur of a day.
“I’m not a morning person,” Laurie admits. “I mean, I usually get up at 8:00 or 8:30, but I find that getting up at 4:30 in the morning excites me and gets me motivated.”
6:15 AM: To market, to market
At a time when most people are still sleeping, Laurie drives downtown and begins marking the streets with booth numbers so that vendors and musicians can locate their assigned spots when they arrive.
“It’s a quiet time,” says Laurie, who fell in love with the Square when she and her husband moved to Georgetown about five years ago. “Almost surreal, but peaceful. You’d never know that in a few hours there’ll be 1,500 to 2,000 people enjoying Market Day. And that number continues to grow.”
7–9 AM: Vendors arrive and begin setting up
Rain or shine, vendors from around Texas set up shop in Downtown Georgetown, lining 7th and 8th Streets with white merchant tents and transforming the historic Square into a quaint open-air marketplace. A typical Market Day attracts more than 80 merchants, with space to fit up to 125 or more vendors.
“Vendor booth locations are listed on the website, so most of the vendors already know where they’re going before they arrive,” explains Laurie. “But Bob and I are there if they need any help. . . . And it’s so nice to see vendors helping each other set up their tents. It brings a feeling of camaraderie to the event.”
9 AM: Open for business
This is when the magic happens. Vendors selling items such as homemade jewelry, soaps, lotions, gourmet jams, candy, and beef jerky are now officially open for business.
During the three years she’s been Market Days’ coordinator, Laurie has seen vendors display an array of homegrown and handcrafted wares, from farm-fresh honey and delectable sweets to steampunk-inspired jewelry and handmade birdhouses.
“One of our goals as the DGA is to do everything we can to help the merchants, and by bringing more foot traffic to the square, Market Days does do that,” says Laurie. “Not only do the street vendors profit from it, but shops on the Square see an uptick as well.”
4 PM: Closing time
Market Day officially closes at 4 PM, and at that time vendors are encouraged to tear down their tents as quickly as possible.
“The DGA is in charge of cleaning up the Square after Market Days, so we’ll stay there until that last vendor is off the street,” says Laurie. “Some vendors may not realize that if they stay there later, we have to stay there later, too.”
5:30 PM Clean up
Once the market has closed, the shoppers have gone home, and the vendors have torn down their tents, Laurie and her team straighten up the Square, making sure to leave it as it was when they arrived.
7 PM: Three cheers for a job well done
After the Market Day area is sufficiently tidied, Laurie and Bob Case head over to Georgetown Winery to appreciate what they’ve accomplished.
“It’s kind of a tradition of ours,” says Laurie. “We go to the winery and we celebrate: Either it was a really bad day—maybe we had a vendor who was just ‘urgh,’” she says, laughing. “Or maybe it was a great day—successful, and all our vendors were friendly.”
8:30 PM: Home again, home again
Laurie calls it a night. Come Monday, it will be time to start planning the next month’s Market Day or helping to plan one of the DGA’s other big events: First Fridays, Georgetown Art & Wine on the Square, Boo Bash! or The Christmas Stroll.
“It’s a simple job when you’re here at Market Day,” says Laurie, “but 95% of the job isn’t the actual day. It’s the planning process—getting vendors to participate, getting applications ready, trying to build the market for the following month.”
Market Days take place 9 AM–4 PM on the Square in downtown Georgetown on the second Saturday of each month, March through November. For more information, go to www.thegeorgetownsquare.com. Vendor inquiries and application requests can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 Market Days Calendar
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