My Dream for the Maker’s Marketplace

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Sometimes I wish I had giant gobs of money. On a normal day I don’t spend much, if any time, dreaming about having large amounts of money, but every once in a while, the desire comes up. For instance a month ago we had to pick up a quick birthday present for a soon to be eight year old girl. We were in the next town over and stopped at a new shopping center to see what they had. After parking and looking all around I decided that Target was our best option. Actually I knew it wasn’t a good option at all, but it was our only option that afternoon. I wanted to get this little girl something crafty and something she could make. Choosing Target to find that object was going to be tough. In fact as we walked closer to the front entrance I realized that I felt a little repulsed by the entire shopping center full of cheaply made goods. This center is filled with cheap (made overseas) home goods stores and fast (environmentally unfriendly) fashion. Things you’ll buy today and grow tired of in a year, if not sooner. Things that ultimately will end up in a landfill. Satisfying our immediate urge to buy, yet ending up cluttering up our homes and making us feel even more empty inside. Its a dismal feeling to look around and see that all of this land was covered by concrete and asphalt, with millions of dollars of resources only to fulfill our consumerist desire to get the buzz of instant gratification shopping.

I’m not against shopping. In the right setting I enjoy it actually. But I don’t enjoy big box shopping at all.

Right then the thought came to me of an entirely new sort of shopping center. And that’s where the need for giant gobs of money came in. I want to build a Maker’s Marketplace. Imagine a shopping center full of stores where you can buy quality ‘ingredients’ to turn into your own creations. I suppose back before industrialization all shopping hubs would look similar to what I’m about to describe. A place where you could buy simple, useful items with the intent to transform them into things you need. They already have these stores scattered around your towns, but I want to bring them all together into one shopping center.

What if we combined a quality fabric store and placed that next to a craft store. Put a fully stocked hobby store next to that. Of course a yarn store. Probably in the middle of the center I’d put a good natural grocery store. On the other side of that a kitchen & cooking supply store. On the far side I’d invite a hardware store to move in with a large lumber yard. I might even make room for an auto parts store. And of course a gardening shop with a plant nursery that extended out far and wide. Across the parking lot I’d have a materials yard were you could pick up a load of gravel, flagstone, compost or whatever you needed that day.

In between these larger stores I’d imagine smaller, independently owned shops such as an herb/apothecary store. A coffee shop or two. A few small quick and healthy restaurants. Even a few boutiques where people have handmade items to sell. Of course a stop off for an ice cream cone. A music store with instruments and lessons. What about a shop selling fermentation items for making wine and beer? An amazingly stocked seed store. A shop that carried high quality gardening tools. A few places for local clothing designers to sell their creations. I wouldn’t be against a quality shoe store, should the right vendor come along.

Scattered amongst all of this would be spaces for classes and workshops. I would encourage each store to host weekly or monthly classes on how to make things. We could host Maker’s Birthday Parties for adults and children. There could be farmers markets hosted in the parking lot once or twice a week. Maybe on Friday evenings we could host all the food trucks in the area with musicians playing for all.

What do you think? What else do we need in our shopping center? Do you like the idea? This, at least, is the type of shopping center I’d love to go spend time and money at. A place where you feel good leaving your money. A shopping experience that would fill us up and get our hands and minds busy creating something new. What if the end result of our shopping trip left us more satisfied and proud of ourselves for taking on a new skill. Wouldn’t it be a good day if we left that shopping center, not only with the happy buzz of a new purchase but that we could come home and satisfy our minds and hands with our innate desire to create something new? We are hard wired to want to use our brains and bodies to make new things, not just to passively buy and come home and mindlessly sit on the couch.

Well anyway, that’s my dream for now. The Makers Marketplace.

(And as for the photos? Well a few weeks ago some friends came over with 50lbs of apples and we had a fun and festive friday night making apple cider. about our press.)

(p.s. If you haven’t already signed up for it, go ahead and sign up for the Ultimate Bundles a FREE mini-course called “The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families”.)


  1. Terry Crisler says

    I would do most of my shopping there! How about a pet rescue store & a place to buy animal feed & fresh eggs.

  2. says

    Such a lovely dream, although it’s a pretty accurate description of the pre-1980 Sonoma Plaza–The Handweaver, Off The Square Arts, Sonoma Mission Hardware, Kay’s Fabrics, Ruggles Music, The Creamery (now B and V), Simmons Pharmacy, the feed store on the corner of W. Napa and 1st West plus so many more!

  3. says

    Gotta have a vintage / antique store or two along with a salvage yard for those of us who love to re-purpose. Also an art supply store for those who love to create beautiful things with paints, pens and the likes as well as clay shop to make and paint custom pottery.

    What I think would be the ultimate addition is a large beautiful/scenic outdoor section that would be open to crafties/artists and such who want sell their handmade goodies :) Kind of like the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach, CA The list can go on and on and on.

  4. says

    Kendra, I started reading your blog a few years ago when I was living in Los Angeles and dreaming of moving north. Thanks to you, I checked out Sonoma and was hooked. Now I’m living in Sonoma and working at one of the places you are dreaming about — a sustainable nursery where no chemicals are used, where wildlife flourishes, where chickens roam. Come visit us at Sonoma Valley Wholesale Nursery (open to the public on Tuesdays and Saturdays) on Arnold Drive at the south end of the valley. Our chickens have their own page on our website, Tell us what you’d like to see to make our nursery like the one in your dreams!
    Best wishes,

  5. Debbie Platt says

    The other day I was all over the county looking through Good Will Stores and other salvage stores to find enough materials to make a glass totam pole for my garden. Wouldn’t it be great to have a giant Good Will store or some other thrift store to buy items to make your own junk art? It could have metal, wood, and all kinds of glass materials all under one roof. Fabulous!

  6. says

    I’m totally with you on this! Hate the soullessness of the big-box and ultra-mall shopping experience. Even malls used to be nicer once upon a time. Sebastopol is kind of like what you describe; a lot of small local specialty shops with great-quality, unique products.

  7. EcoTeags says

    I think this is a great idea! Any way to incorporate shopping while being outdoors or closer to nature and our community sounds great to me! You would definitely find support from local, small, specialty-businesses and artists. Plus what a great opportunity for kids to learn that there is more than just earn a dollar, spend a dollar and never ask where it comes from.

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