Winterfest Market offers holiday fun, chance for Dearborn small businesses to connect with community

Ida González remembers it fondly, her first sale at the Dearborn Farmers & Artisans Market. Originally from Puerto Rico, González set out to share her love of coffee — and, specifically, Puerto Rican coffee — with her Dearborn community, launching I Say It With Café in 2018. The company imports fair trade coffees from Puerto Rico and Central America, sells coffee-centric gift boxes, and offers custom-labels for corporate events, weddings, showers, and more.

Earlier this year, González celebrated the opening of her brick-and-mortar storefront on Dearborn’s Monroe Street. For all her success at local farmers markets, not only in Dearborn but also places like Eastern Market, González knew that when it was time to open a storefront, it was going to be in Dearborn. The initial support she received at the farmers market there is ultimately what inspired her to push further.

Ida González opened her I Say It With Café storefront in Dearborn earlier this year.“With that first sale, I gained the confidence to say that people like what I have to offer,” González says. “That’s the reason why I’ll be at the Winterfest Market. People want to support you and see you succeed here.”

González and her I Say It With Café brand is one of more than two dozen vendors scheduled to be on hand for this year’s Winterfest Market, the annual holiday shopping market that features local makers, bakers, artisans, small businesses, and organizations. This year’s event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, in downtown Dearborn’s Wagner Park.

The market offers area entrepreneurs like González the opportunity to get out in front of the community as people look to shop local for the holidays, even if, as is the case with González, they’ve since opened their own storefront. If science could find a way to tap into an entrepreneur’s hustle, we could power the country.

“I’ll be bringing whole bean and ground coffees, ready-to-go gift boxes,” she says. “Coffee is a gift for every occasion.”

Jacob and Lizzie DiMaria, co-founders of The Dearborn Shop.Lizzie and Jacob DiMaria are working to get to where González is, with goals of opening their own physical location one day. The husband-and-wife team launched The Dearborn Shop earlier this summer, a line of Dearborn-themed gifts and apparel which is currently sold through their website and, more importantly, says Jacob, at vendor-friendly events like the Winterfest Market. The company debuted at the Edison Street Sale earlier this year, popping up at farmers markets and craft fairs along the way to their booth at this year’s Winterfest Market.

“Pop-ups like these are the main source of income for us. It’s where we get the most traffic; we’re getting more in-person customers than we are on the website right now,” Jacob says. “Until we’re more well-known, events like these are where we’ll get the most eyes on our business.”

The Dearborn Shop has grown since its launch in June 2021, adding new t-shirt designs, mugs, and work-from-home-inspired products like pens, notebooks, and mousepads. The company carries products from other local makers, too.

“We’ve been busy adding new products, new designs; adding new vendors. We’re working toward our goal of having enough inventory to open a physical space,” says Jacob.

Not only a market

Putting the “fest” in Winterfest is a host of events to draw people to downtown Dearborn. Though the popular Breakfast with Santa event at Modern Greek & Salad Bar is sold-out, there are still opportunities to take photos with Santa from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Santa’s Reindeer on hand from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also planned is the Jimmy John’s Field Mobile Batting Cage, which offers two free tickets to a United Shore Professional Baseball League baseball game; face-painting in the Royalty Gardens booth; a Make & Take Crafts event sponsored by Blick Art Materials; and a gift wrapping station provided by Hines Park PM Rotary.

As for entertainment, there will be performances from musicians Anissa Lea and Suzi Marsh and Ping Spells, the former of which is sponsored by Dearborn Music. A Wall of Wishes Poinsettia Art Installation, created by Fordson High School art students, and ice sculpture demonstrations will also be on hand.

Volunteers from Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit at a farmers market event earlier this year.And it’s not just local entrepreneurs filling the vendor booths. This will be the first year Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit will be a vendor, a Dearborn-based nonprofit dedicated to the rescue and protection of companion animals, i.e, dogs and cats. They’ll be selling pet-themed merchandise to help raise money for the animal shelter and its many programs. Expect a binder full of pages featuring ready-to-adopt animals, too.

“We participate in the farmers markets and really enjoy that. Sometimes we even see the dogs that have been adopted come up to us,” says Sarah Rood, director of marketing and development for the shelter.

“The Winterfest is a great opportunity to connect with the community on a whole other level. Sometimes we’re surprised by how many people don’t know that we’re here so we want to show what we’ve got going on and build support for our programs.”

Connecting with the community is a big part of events like the Winterfest Market, says Jamie Garrison, founder of yoga studio and metaphysical gift shop Inner Sage. Though she has her own storefront and studio in downtown Dearborn, Garrison’s team will be out at the market too, selling jewelry, crystals, gift boxes, and plenty more.

Garrison’s is a community-minded business, offering outdoor yoga classes at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to help calm people’s minds during the stress of it all. She also announced that Inner Sage is offering free yoga sessions for area high school students through the end of the year, a response to the recent high school shooting tragedy in Oxford.

“There’s been a lot of new businesses and development happening in downtown Dearborn these past few years. And with COVID-19, a lot of us had to go on pause,” Garrison says. “So it’s even more important to be at events like these and network and meet and talk to our neighbors, to help navigate the pandemic because it’s still affecting all of us.”

Downtown Dearborn’s Winterfest Market is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Wagner Park.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.