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Made Local Marketplace - The Name Says It All - Sonoma County

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Made Local Marketplace
The Name Says It All

By Lynda McDaniel

It’s 9:55 a.m., and fresh produce is being loaded onto a wooden cart at 531 5th Street in downtown Santa Rosa. As you approach, you might expect to find a farm store, but once inside, you quickly realize the veggies are just one ingredient in a juicy mix of local, often organic, products at the Made Local Marketplace. Room after room beckon (the store has grown four times its original size) with stylish displays of products from local makers, artists, and producers from six counties: Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, Solano, Napa & Marin. 

In addition to herbs, vegetables, and organic plant starts, the front of the store showcases specialty foods from the region, including Sonoma Chocolatiers confections, Cloverleaf Ranch barbecue sauce, homemade granola, jams, and condiments, as well as farm-fresh eggs and cheeses from Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese

Sonoma County Made Local children's productsBut that’s just the beginning. Made Local Marketplace, which Kelley Rajala started in 2010 with 35 makers, now includes the work of 400 producers of housewares, jewelry, art, cards, clothing, children’s items, and health and beauty products made with natural ingredients.

If you’re a first-time shopper, you might ask Marketplace Manager Nada Abbott her favorites to help you navigate this bountiful inventory. Don’t be surprised, though, if she hesitates; that’s only a reflection of the spirit and mission of the store. 

“The promise I’ve made our vendors is they all have high visibility,” she explains. “Nobody gets stuck in an inconvenient spot; no product is treated as less important. Our merchandise is all about people, inspiration, and aspiration. Each piece of merchandise is part of that person and deserves the honor that goes with that.”  

Sonoma County Made Local kitchen towelsOf course, once she starts walking through the 1,800-square-foot store, Abbott proudly points out ceramic artists Candice Birchfield, Rhonda Lee, and Larry Robinson, as well as several talented jewelers, photographers, and card-makers. Off to the left, a display of Greer Puder’s spiffy handkerchiefs and kitchen items are complemented by Abbott’s creations under the moniker The Cottage Lady, including hand-sewn linens, European-style men’s shirts, and even women’s bloomers.

Kids’ have their own department too. Abbott’s items for creative play and baby sets mingle with Lee Miller’s wood-crafted toys and Jessica Buickerood’s children’s clothing, among others.

Extending the Walls

As merchants around the region catch “local fever,” Rajala and her business partner, Pamela Dale (who’s also a weaver of award-winning scarves, tea towels and blankets), are eager to help. “We know our folks can’t make a living off one store, so we’re happy to introduce them to other merchants,” Rajala says.

Sonoma County made Local Artist TagsIn fact, Made Local Marketplace has become a showroom of sorts for the region’s artists and makers. “I found quite a few of the artists we represent here by visiting the Made Local Marketplace,” says Jasmine Gold, owner of Stone’s Throw in Cotati. “We could choose from a diverse selection of artists who fit our theme of body, mind, and spirit.”

Susan Butler, owner of Locastore, opening soon in Sebastopol, agrees. “Kelley has been supportive of Locastore during its development,” she explains. “I found a couple of seamstresses who are making our aprons and shopping bags; I also got leads on local artisan preserved-food makers.”

Organically inspired

Sonoma County Made Local foodThe Made Local Marketplace concept has grown as organically as many of its products. That expansion includes not only an ever-expanding store but also a sister organization, North Bay Made. A branding initiative for locally made products in the six counties, North Bay Made cooperates with store owners throughout the region, like Amy Ludwick of Earth’s Bounty Fine Foods in Santa Rosa and Scott Cratty, owner of Westside Renaissance Market in Ukiah. 

“Our store is a community grocery store with the biggest collection of locally made foods in Mendocino County. We have a mini-version of the Made Local Marketplace in the front and back of our store,” Cratty explains. “Lots of stores talk about ‘local’ but what does that really mean? Well, thanks to North Bay Made, customers know the products actually come from this region.” 

Back at Made Local Marketplace, Abbott is completing a sale with a first-time customer. “I love when a new customer comes in and says, ‘I had no idea what all you have here; I want to come back and bring my sisters and mother.’ And they do return,” she says. 

Sonoma County Made Local Sonoma-Phile

Seasonal sanity

For holiday shoppers, Abbott makes another promise: no commercial Christmas atmosphere. “No overt red-and-green theme or grandmothers run over by reindeers or chipmunks,” Abbott adds, chuckling. “We offer an exciting emporium for handmade gifts that allows you to feel the festivities of the season without the hassles. It’s a haven here.” 

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