One of a Kind show and Seasons Christmas show make a return to in-person shopping events
Two of Toronto’s largest holiday markets, the Seasons Christmas Show and the One of a Kind Show, are back for their first in-person shopping events since 2019.
Shoppers will be able to browse the wares of hundreds of Canadian artisans, from hand-thrown pottery and unique art to holiday cards and decorations — all ready to buy without shipping costs or delays.
There’s excitement in the air with the return of in-person events; after all, it’s a chance to get out and meet friends for a little retail therapy and local shopping. This year, things will look a little different. Visitors will need to purchase timed-entry tickets in advance of the show, available online. Shoppers can also expect enhanced health and safety protocols including proof of vaccination, mandatory masks, enhanced cleaning procedures, contract tracing and health screening.
The One of a Kind Show (OOAK) runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5 at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, with over 400 artisans and makers from across Canada selling everything from fine art and ceramics to handcrafted gourmet treats. Don’t expect the usual food and beverage sampling that can attract crowds of people around booths. It has been cancelled, with organizers saying that their number one priority is the health and safety of everyone at the show.
“We know these changes will make One of a Kind look a little different this year, but we also know that by implementing our full suite of health and safety protocols and making sure we’re working with everyone to comply with these guidelines, we’re taking a measured but exciting step to get our community together to reconnect and rebuild,” says show director Janice Leung.
The Seasons Christmas Show also returns to the International Centre, Mississauga, from Nov. 12 to 14, with over 150 exhibitors, including a mix of food and holiday decor. Tucked within it, shoppers can browse the Makeful Market, a curated holiday marketplace featuring 80 local craft makers. The show plans to run holiday-themed craft workshops and onstage demonstrations. Shoppers will also have access to the Fall Cottage Life Show, which is running simultaneously, giving visitors access to both shows for the price of one admission.
For makers, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with customers, says Erinn Wright, show manager of the Seasons Christmas Show. “We’ve heard stories from makers of their struggles during the pandemic, such as postal service delays, and how this severely impacted their business. For emerging makers, face-to-face transactions at events such as Seasons are still very important when growing your business and forming lasting relationships with customers.”
Ceramic artist Paul Stewart says that most of his sales happen at shows. “For over a year, my sales were virtually nil. I couldn’t do in-person craft shows, lessons or school workshops. All of the usual sources of my income were gone because of the pandemic,” says Stewart, who is a 20-year veteran of OOAK and owner of The Pottery, a studio and teaching space in the west end of Toronto. “I’m looking forward to seeing customers and getting authentic feedback — you can’t do that online.” Stewart will be at the OOAK with giftable ceramic ramen bowls, travel mugs and a new line of hanging planters.
For artists just starting, shows make a difference, says Ali Harrison, a papercutting artist who’s been a vendor at the OOAK for seven years. “It’s how I got myself out there and started my business. Many of the people who buy directly from my website found me at the OOAK or another show,” says Harrison. The intricate hand-cut designs on paper started as a hobby, eventually turned into a business and now include charming laser-cut holiday ornaments, wall hangings, cake toppers, wreaths and customizable advent calendars made of laser-cut birch wood.
It’s Aimee Ruoff’s first time exhibiting in person at OOAK. Ruoff started working as an artist in the summer of 2020 and participated in a virtual edition last year. “I’m looking forward to the joy of creative community, seeing smiling faces or eyes, and meeting other makers and lovers of craft, food and art,” says Ruoff. Look for her oil paintings and prints inspired by the fleeting moments of everyday life.
What started as a pandemic hobby has turned into a growing business for Haley Odegaard, a candle maker exhibiting at the OOAK for the first time. Odegaard makes sculptural, decorative candles from her garage in London, Ont. “It’s like a mini-factory,” says Odegaard, whose candles are made of 100 per cent soy wax in holiday-themed shapes such as trees, snowflakes, snowy owls, and famous figures such as the Venus de Milo or a statue of David.
Monika Giacca turned her side gig making cards, stationery and custom stamps into a full-time business after being laid off from her job as a travel agent due to the pandemic. Her stationery designs are hand-painted and then printed as greeting cards. Giacca will be at the Makeful Market with various holiday-themed products, including holiday card sets, notepads and ornaments.
Mari Kimsto’s Scandi-inspired felt gnomes dressed in festive hats are made from repurposed knits sourced from local thrift shops near her Paris, Ont., studio. According to Scandinavian folklore, the mythical creatures represent good luck and protection for your home. Gnomes by Mari will be at the Makeful Market.
Kristen Campbell makes seed bombs, nutrient packed balls of clay, worm castings and native Canadian wildflower seeds. “Launching a seed bomb takes no time at all, but the ecological impacts are huge … and the flowers that grow look stunning,” says Campbell, also a first-time vendor at the Makeful Market.