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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Mini donuts, local tunes and woven glassware: Downtown Holiday Market returns

Lucas Cabrera Hache | Photographer
The Downtown Holiday Market glints at the foot of the National Portrait Gallery.

Tents lining Penn Quarter, pop art maps of D.C. at every turn and the scent of hot chocolate wafting through the air can only mean one thing: The District’s beloved Downtown Holiday Market is back.

Spanning F Street Northwest between 7th and 9th streets is the 40-day Downtown Holiday Market, now in its 19th year, curating a selection of local vendors, hoping to represent international cultures through artisanship, food and music. This year’s market features a more decorative setup as well as an app showcasing vendors.

In addition to those aesthetic upgrades, the Holiday Market this year features a live stage for local D.C. musical artists to jam out with their favorite tunes, holiday or otherwise. Performers span the musical spectrum from Maryland-based Hawaiian swing group The Hula Monsters to holiday folk-rock duo Yuletide Troubadours.

With performances from local musicians and vendors offering delights like luxuriously flavorful cheeses and jewelry crafted from ancient coins, the vast offerings make the experience a D.C. staple. The 84 vendors at the market feature everything from handmade jewelry as a gift for a loved one to just a tasty treat for snacking.

Michael Berman, the director of the market, said while the event features a good portion of local DMV businesses, some artisans travel both nationally and internationally to participate, fostering the true diverse spirit of the event. Additionally, Berman said minority and women-owned businesses frequently participate in the market and use it to grow their vocation.

“It’s important for the vendor community that’s growing their business, and we hope to incubate so eventually they become a storefront or they grow in other ways,” Berman said. “We have a long success of making these businesses really succeed in the way that they become storefronts or kiosks in airports or grow online or become some sort of viral sensation.”

While businesses might use the market to launch themselves, some vendors also use the holiday selling extravaganza as a way to give back. One such vendor with an emphasis on supporting D.C. nonprofits is jewelry brand Article 22. The woman-owned business creates sustainable pieces from debris like shrapnel from the Vietnam War.

When a customer buys a piece of jewelry from Article 22, a portion of the proceeds goes to Mines Advisory Group America, a nonprofit that removes detonated bombs from war-affected areas. Article 22 then employs artists in Laos to use the retrieved metal to create their range of wearable accessories from bracelets to birthstones.

Kathryn Walker, manager of the DC Region for Article 22, said having an in-person connection with District locals through the Holiday Market was important for the business to build a network.

“We see a lot of people that could be potential partners, collaborators, people who could be featured in our blog, so it’s a really great community in Washington, D.C.,” Walker said. “What’s nice about being in person is people are able to feel the pieces of jewelry. They are pieces of history.”

History is also central to Nancy Wasserman, the owner of Glitzy Glass, who creates and sells a plethora of Judaic pieces like menorahs and mezuzahs. She incorporates lace her grandmother made in Boston while the rest of her family was living through the Holocaust into her glasswork. She melts pieces of lace into glass of varying colors, creating pieces simultaneously decorative and personally significant.

Wasserman said this is her 12th year as a vendor at the market. She said during her time selling entwined glassware on F Street, she has built a community of camaraderie among visitors and other vendors alike, a cross-generational experience reflecting the nearly centurylong connections in her work.

“It’s the most amazing place because I get to see people year after year and we all become friendly and we all get older and we meet children of the people we know, and it’s really wonderful,” Wasserman said.

For visitors, too, the market is a way to get into the festive spirit during the winter season. From vintage prints depicting idyllic scenes of the south of France to candles smelling of warm vanilla and earthy patchouli and musk, visitors can shop for holiday gifts and enjoy the season with friends and family.

John Butsch, a visitor from Takoma Park, Maryland, said whenever he visits the market, he goes to Migue’s Mini Donuts, a must-eat for anyone looking for a sweet treat as a shopping intermission. He said that while the vendors change each year, the familiar warmth of the community remains each year.

“I think it brings a lot of people, both locals and visitors, to the city,” Butsch said.

Kathleen Waterston, a Georgetown University graduate student, said she appreciated the vast offerings of the various vendors, in particular the range of original art and prints. But, for Waterston, the highlight of the Downtown Holiday Market was its ease and accessibility.

“I think it brings a lot of people together in terms of something to do after work ends or a destination to have to go to with my friends,” she said.

The Downtown Holiday Market is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. until Saturday, Dec. 23, and is located at F Street NW between 7th and 9th streets, outside the National Portrait Gallery.

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