Vendors come from far, wide for city market

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2001

According to his business card, Dean Snook of Houston, Alaska, is a "wood wizard."

His magic is put toward producing boxes and miniature dressers of all types or, as he sometimes tells customers, "wrapping wood around space."

Snook's Mountain Top Woodshop wonders are just a few of the thousands of items on sale this weekend at the Alaska-Juneau Public Market in Centennial Hall.

The market of food, crafts and other holiday gifts, held every year since 1983, features more than 130 booths this year. The vendors are drawn from around Southeast, across the state and even around the nation.

Sarah Ryll, originally from Wrangell and Petersburg, brought her display of custom-designed fleece cardigans and outerwear - fleece taken "to another level" - all the way from Maine.

Ryll, whose business is called Ryll Ideas, has set up a booth at the market for 10 years. Although she moved to Maine last July, she said she "just can't cut it off."

"The people, the other booths are so much fun," she said. "Even back East, the quality (of other shows) hasn't reached this level."

There is also plenty of local representation at the show. Fumi Matsumoto of Big Fish Studios in Juneau offered a variety of items for sale, including wind-spinners with Juneau themes such as charter boats and bears digging in garbage cans, and hand-painted silk scarves.

Matsumoto also created crab-pot ornaments out of recycled Styrofoam, milk jugs and orange-bag netting. They sold out so fast she was making more as the customers browsed Friday afternoon.

Event organizer Peter Metcalfe said the number of vendors at this year's market is greater than in years past, and said Friday afternoon's crowds provided some of the "most intense" hours he could remember.

"We got them in as fast as we could ... and there were still as many as 100 people waiting in line to get in," he said.

The crowds are a large reason why many vendors return each year - but the money customers spend is not the only reason.

Janie Nungasak Snyder of North Pole - originally from Barrow - said she enjoys coming back to see the friends she has made in six years of selling at the market.

"The same people come back each year," she said.

Her booth features handsewn atiqlks - or snow shirts - in all sizes, including "Barbie-size." She also sells yo-yos made of polar bear or otter fur.

Matsumoto said she likes to renew acquaintances and hear what customers think of her work.

"I like to see people's reaction to the artwork," Matsumoto said. "You get a lot of feedback (and) a lot of good ideas from people."

Snook, a fifth-generation carpenter, said he thinks the crowd in Juneau is more respectful of his work than at other shows he has been to.

"The crowd is appreciative; they have enough sophistication to appreciate," he said. And being from Southcentral Alaska, he added, "it's nice to have a tropical vacation in the wintertime."

The market concludes today, with hours from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for adults and $1.50 for children.

Andrew Krueger can be reached at

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