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21st Juneau Public Market offers mix of familiar artisans and new vendors

Twenty-five percent of the vendors will be new at this year's market

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2003

The Juneau Public Market is a place where entrepreneurs can test how their product sells, where established summer businesses can make some off-season sales, and where hobbyists can earn extra money for their Christmas shopping.

For Dick Callahan and his son Neal, 12, the market is a chance to introduce a successful home-based business to Juneau.

"The business has just grown over the last three years to the point where we feel like we have enough business to take it to the Public Market," said Dick Callahan.

The 21st annual Juneau Public Market begins at noon today at Centennial Hall. Vendors at 120 booths will hawk their goods until 8 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Callahans started selling Swedish field axes as part of a home-school business project three years ago. Dick and his son chose to sell Gransfors Bruks Swedish axes because of their high quality, Dick Callahan said.

"It started off with just teaching my son what a business is all about," Callahan said. "... We talked about what we were going to sell and the first thing we talked about was ethics. We wouldn't sell anything that we didn't know where it came from."

Callahan first learned about the Swedish axes in an article in Field and Stream magazine. After buying a Gransfors Bruks ax for himself, he bought several to give as gifts to friends. Eventually, he and his son became a Gransfors Bruks dealer for Alaska.

The father and son also will sell merino wool products from a Swedish company, and wooden shields and swords they made themselves, Dick Callahan said.

Twenty-five percent of the vendors at the Juneau Public Market will be new to the event this year, said Peter Metcalfe, who organizes the market. He doesn't actively solicit vendors for the show - most approach him after hearing about the event from other vendors.

"It's kind of an organic event in the sense that it grows over time and changes," said Metcalfe.

He also doesn't screen what goes into the show.

"If you impose your own taste, you're going to get an event that's to your taste, and it's a pretty limited group of people who have the same taste you have," he said.

Products to be sold this year include hand-crafted wood boxes, paintings, jewelry, hand-spun and dyed yarn, Turkish and Oriental rugs, smoked salmon, pottery and knives.

"People are asking me throughout the year if so-and-so's going to be back," Metcalfe said. "One thing is the cedar salmon boards made by the Kunats from Gustavus. They'll be there."

Metcalfe also has had many requests for the return of Robin McLean, who makes hand-thrown pottery in Sutton. She'll return this year after a five-year absence from the show.

Some vendors plan to sell services, not goods, at the market. Noelle Blanc and Elizabeth Medgyesy, both of whom own massage businesses in town, will give chair massages at the market.

"In 10 minutes or 15 minutes you can have a fantastic experience with having someone touch you, work out knots and tension," said Blanc. "... They get up feeling refreshed and revived. People always walk away with a smile on their face, always."

Food booths at the show will offer a multinational selection of treats. Antonio Diaz will sell Peruvian dishes, while Haydar Suyun will cook up some Mediterranean cuisine for the event. Sushi, barbecued meat, smoothies and ice cream also will be sold.

• Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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