IF the folks on your Christmas gift list are interested in art, crystals, essential oils, vintage clothing, antiques, plants, and flowers, these items and more are available at the boho-chic pop-up Mercatino. Held over three weekends at La Collina restaurant in Poblacion, Makati, the final weekend will be on Dec. 5 and 6.
The pop-up was put up by fashion designer and consultant Carol de Leon and La Collina chef patron and cultural and environmental activist Anita Celdran.
“It is because of the lull in retail sales across the Philippines that Mercatino Pop Up was born,” said Ms. De Leon, explaining why they held a pop-up now, during a pandemic. “March is the biggest month for retail sales and we definitely missed that while we were locked down,” she said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld on Nov.24.
“My mind was thinking about our artisans who depend on a vibrant retail market to support their livelihood. La Collina restaurant is a beautifully remodeled space that lacked customers due to the lockdown, so Anita and I took this chance to provide an opportunity for artisans and small brands to show their items in a safe place,” said Ms. De Leon, who is a product development specialist and advisor to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Design Center Philippines.
“We were not motivated by profits, we didn’t have any projections set at all, especially because this is a time of uncertainty. We were motivated by our common passion to uplift our community and give hope for a brighter future. That being said, we were pleasantly surprised to see many vendors excited to participate.”
The pandemic did affect the vendors in other ways. “We did have a few vendors that declined because they were not ready to risk being too exposed to the chance of catching this virus. It’s a calibrated choice that each person needs to make and we respect that,” said Ms. De Leon.
Keeping the health and safety of both customers and vendors, shopping has been divided into three time slots, and these are by RSVP only. “We took online reservations so we could closely monitor the flow of the people in the designated spaces,” said Ms. De Leon. “masks were mandatory, but since the venue is a restaurant, there were periods where we were ‘masks-off’… and could actually socialize in the New Normal. Our first day was a success, we had all our reservation slots full. People showed up and shopped and we were pleasantly surprised by the sales generated. The vendors were all in a good mood and just happy to feel a new energy moving, some ray of hope that this situation will pass.”
The items up for sale are a very eclectic but carefully chosen. “With the holiday season around the corner I wanted to curate a show that offered gifts from the Earth: handmade pottery from Sagada, healing oils, crystals, and vintage products that give a nod to sustainability and value to the handmade,” said Ms. De Leon.
While fairs are ostensibly meant to sell and promote products, they also become a venue to promote values. This is especially true in fairs such as Mercatino, where thought goes into the process of making the products, or at least the communities responsible for making them. Ms. De Leon said, “This is the conscious consumerism I would like to move towards. I’m from the USA, a country plagued by overconsumption of everything, which leads to irresponsible production and waste. That is why I repatriated from LA to Manila to pursue slow fashion and sustainability.”
Many of the world’s problems (perhaps even the pandemic) are due to people not caring enough for the environment and the planet. But now the trend seems to be towards catering to a new and more conscious consumer, one who wants to know if any collateral damage was incurred by what they hold in their hands. The values of sustainability are seen less as a bonus, and more as a requirement. “Having worked as a designer for over 25 years, my job has been to create more products that bring in high sales. Corporate profits over people is not sustainable. I’m certain this pandemic is related to the hyper consumerist lifestyle we have been leading for the past 60 years. The lesson is being taught to us by this pandemic: we need to slow down and make conscious decisions, spend more time with our families, be more patient, and shift the focus from financial wealth and to investing and growing our spiritual wealth,” said Ms. De Leon.
While this weekend will see the last Mercatino in La Collina, others are forthcoming. “I feel it would be interesting to hold a Mercatino pop-up in the south — maybe in Alabang. When this pandemic is over, I definitely want to pursue my advocacy to market Philippine-made goods to Europe and the USA, especially in sectors where we have favorable trade duties,” said Ms. De Leon.
Reserve a slot for Friday and Saturday’s Mercatino and RSVP through 0906-402-1291 and 0917-817-2487. — J.L. Garcia