Recently I sat down to chat with the co-founders of the Raleigh Night Market, Lauryn Stroud, and Sara Buxton. In partnership with City Market, they host a fabulous community event in downtown Raleigh.
Raleigh Night Market is a monthly event (March-November, 2019), which brings tons of incredible local artisans to one space. (City Market). Yes, local, local, local! Pottery, jewelry, clothes, food, drinks, and so much more. There is also live local music playing throughout, as well as entertainment. Cirque de Vol (circus arts) provided entertainment at a recent Raleigh Night Market.
It all happens in downtown Raleigh’s City Market. City Market is a quaint little cobblestone area that houses an eclectic selection of shops and restaurants, as well as a venue, and Artspace studios & gallery.
The market is mostly set up outdoors in the street, however, the venue is also utilized for this event. There are just THAT many vendors!
Last year Lauryn and Sara got to chatting about how challenging it is in the Raleigh area for artists to showcase their work and sell it. In general, it’s a challenge for any small business to get their goods to the public.
Sara, who is originally from South Carolina, comes from a long line of furniture makers. Her passion, however, is making art out of metal and wood. It’s beautiful stuff! You can check out some of her artwork on her Instagram, @oakcityrevival.
Sara refers to herself as the “connector” in this venture. Whereas Lauryn refers to herself as the "closer". Together they are a perfect team. Guess it also helps that Sara is a night owl and Lauryn is a morning person. They've got all hours of the day covered and rarely even need to see each other in person.
Lauryn hails from New Jersey and has a talent for organizing large scale events. Lauryn used to be the community manager for Yelp (Triangle region). Having had attended a bunch of events she organized back then, and thoroughly enjoying each and every one of them, I was thrilled to learn she was involved in creating Raleigh Night Market.
Both Lauryn and Sara are very plugged into the Raleigh culture, and they want to add more of what would be appreciated by attendees. Ultimately, they want this to be a true community event, where all are welcome and all will find something they like there.
Lauryn said she got inspiration for Raleigh Night Market from recent travels to Europe and neighboring states here in the US. What she noticed was how much of a draw there was at those markets, and how they focused on local food and art.
Although Lauryn & Sara held just 3 Raleigh Night Market events last year, and 2 so far this year, Subsequently, more and more interest was generated by the public and artisans.
Sara said that "vendors are providing a lot of positive feedback”. Attendees are buying their products, not just looking at them. So they feel their time is well spent. Additionally, it’s at a very convenient time. Plenty of local artisans have day jobs, so the fact that this market is held in the evenings and on weekdays is very appealing. Attendees also like the timing and the casualness of it. It doesn't cost anything to go check it out. You can breeze through or stay until the end.
There have certainly been some difficulties along the way. The day of the third Market, Sara learned that her father who lives out of state had passed away unexpectedly. Her family convinced her that her dad would’ve wanted her to stay in Raleigh and be present for the event that she & Lauryn worked so hard to create.
Less significant difficulties, but still significant, was when during one of their earlier markets they had an electrical outage. They both say that with each new event, they learn as they go and improvise where needed. Their goal is to keep making adjustments and tweaks so that the market is always an exciting event for everyone.
Approximately 4,000 people stream through the market. Some seek it out, yet others happen upon it by chance. Easy enough to do if you work downtown, and on your way home you notice an event happening in City Market.
Some people from far away towns and states, have learned about Raleigh Night Market and have reached out to Lauryn & Sara in hopes of making a reservation to attend. Some want to do a girls night out at the market, others want to have a date-night, and all that is encouraged, but no reservations are taken. Simply come on down!
Lauryn said that some of their volunteers drive in from Fuquay-Varina for every Raleigh Night Market. Other out-of-towners make an event out of it. They stroll the market, grab dinner at a nearby restaurant, and head back to the market afterward.
Not only does this market motivate locals to shop local, but folks that happen to be in town on business or leisure trips from other states have dropped in. Those hanging string twinkle lights in City Market will get anybody's attention. So pretty. And then all those incredible vendors will make you want to stay.
The great thing is, all the nearby shops & restaurants are benefitting from the influx of people that perhaps wouldn't have come downtown, had it not been for Raleigh Night Market.
Pete Pagano, the operator of City Market venue is thrilled for the boost in business too. The venue has a liquor license and a kitchen so those things come in very handy at an event like this.
MOFU Shoppe, is located right outside City Market, and next to it, a new restaurant will be opening in the coming year. This will bring even more crowds to the Raleigh Night Market, and of course to the surrounding businesses too. Currently, Moore Square, which is across the street from City Market, is undergoing major construction. Safe to say that once that gets completed, even more crowds will swing through Raleigh Night Market.
Last year when Lauryn & Sara were in the planning stages of their very first Raleigh Night Market, their mutual friend Jamie Ferguson, Realtor/Team Ferguson, offered to sponsor the event. Another one of their mutual friends was keen to get involved too. Ohioan, Lydia Buehrer, an engineer by day, who has become very passionate about all things Raleigh, ever since she moved here a few years ago. She helped to recruit & coordinate the volunteers, she also helped with the layout of vendor booths and tables positioning, using CAD software.
Clearly, these ladies have their finger on the pulse of Raleigh, and they’ve brought us a monthly event we didn’t know we needed.
Next Raleigh Night Market: May 23, 2019
Durham will be getting a taste too! Lauryn & Sara are expanding to the Bull City! Their first market in Durham will be at Pine & Poplar, the event space connected to The Wine Feed. (307 S. Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27701). This event will occur on June 27, 5:30pm - 10:30pm.
The 2019 Raleigh Night Markets will be held the months of March - November 5:30pm - 10:30pm. March 14 April 25 May 23 June 13 July 11 August 8 September 12 October 10 November 14
ADDRESS: Raleigh Night Market 215 Wolfe Street Raleigh, NC 27601