Rachel Shin, Contributing Photographer

On Friday night, the New Haven Night Market — an annual evening bazaar hosted by Town Green District — featured a myriad of New Haven artisans, entrepreneurs and musicians.

The Night Market took place in the 9th Square neighborhood. The event included live music, more than 60 vendors and organizations, games and gallery access to Artspace New Haven’s “Everywhere and Here” exhibition. The market was non-ticketed and free to attend. During the day, organizers began lining Orange Street from Center Street to George Street with white pop-up tents and string lights. At 5 p.m. the market officially opened; as daylight waned the tents became increasingly populated. Music and chatter swelled in the streets until the market’s close at 10 p.m.

“I’m so excited to be back and to be with other local artists, to be socializing again,” Lisa Luperella, owner of Grateful Pawz, a local pet clothing store, told the News.

The market was on hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, and other vendors shared Luperella’s excitement for the reunited community.

The interpersonal aspect of the market is what lies at the heart of its allure, according to Luperella and Joshua “Ab” Jackson, owner of Demon World Clothing. There is a value in face-to-face transactions that can’t be replicated in online marketplaces, Jackson said.

“I like seeing entrepreneurs of different ages and calibers selling their stuff on the street again, forming peer-to-peer relationships, more than internet marketing,” Jackson said. “My favorite thing is just being outside and being able to see faces trying to dissect my art.”

The vendors collectively stressed the importance of supporting small businesses, pointing to the personal nature of their customer relationships.

Vendors also pride themselves on being more accessible than big name brands, according to Luperella. She hopes to foster long-lasting relationships with her customers, aiming for exchanges that are not purely transactional.

“There’s one perfect thing about buying from a handmade artist: you’re not only supporting the artist and your community, but you build personal relationships with people,” Luperella said. “You don’t have that if you go to T.J. Maxx. If something happens to your product, you can just call me or text me.”

Jalisa Blaine, owner of Juju Bee’s Honey Butter, echoed Luperella’s emphasis on products’ accessibility to customers. Blaine said she had previously attended the market as a patron, and was inspired by other entrepreneurs to return as a vendor. She created her lotion line as an alternative to the “very expensive” existing products on the market, first producing it for herself and then deciding to “share [her] gifts with the world.” 

Many vendors said that the market bolstered the sense of community among New Haven residents. According to Luperella, the market fosters a “strong connection and camaraderie” amongst locals. Laura Boccadoro, a member of the New Haven Pride Center, concurred.

“I feel more connected to the New Haven community anytime we can get out in the community to raise awareness and say that we’re here and ready to help,” Boccadoro said.

On the other hand, Jenilee Jaquez NUR ’23 said she thinks Yale students were overrepresented in the market’s patron demographic. She said that the high concentration of Yalies at the event meant that the experience of attending didn’t naturally lead her to interact with many local residents.

“I don’t think [the Market] makes me feel more connected [to the New Haven community],” Jaquez said. “I think the folks who are here and are attracted to this are probably not necessarily part of the greater New Haven community. Probably a lot of folks here are connected to Yale.”

But Tim Lingk ‘25 said he found the market to be a strong facilitator of engagement with New Haven. It served as a helpful introductory event for those new to the city, he explained. The market provided an opportunity to “take a break from the college routine and start to explore New Haven with a super nice communal event,” Lingk said.

In addition to its over 60 vendors and organizations, the market also featured live music throughout the night. The featured artists were Nick Di Maria Jazz, Sonia Morant, Model Decoy, Rick Reyes Duo and DJ Shaki. They performed on the corner of Orange Street and Crown Street.

Town Green District also partnered with Artspace New Haven for the third year to give market patrons access to the “Everywhere and Here” exhibition. “Everywhere and Here” presents artwork that people react to and incorporates artifacts from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The Peabody will be under renovation until 2024, so market attendees were given a unique opportunity in viewing these objects. The exhibition houses the works of artists Martha Friedman, Anina Major, Brittany Nelson, Cauleen Smith and Tuan Andrew Nguyen.

“What we did was invite five artists to have access to the collection and decide some things that they’d like to learn about from the collection managers at Peabody,” executive director of Artspace Lisa Dent told the News. “They looked at that in relation to their own artwork. For instance, Anina Major is a ceramicist. … What she ended up pulling from the Peabody collection was a piece of Palmetto ware, a material used in creating pottery.”

Town Green District is Downtown New Haven’s business improvement district.

RACHEL SHIN