For the past year, in-person shopping for many of us has been taking a detailed list to the grocery store, buying exactly what’s on the list while making sure you were going up and down the aisles in accordance to the arrows, and getting out of the store as fast as possible. Among the skills that have gotten rusty in the past 15 months is the art of browsing.
Thanks to vaccines and warmer weather, leisurely shopping is back and local artisans have plenty to share with new and returning customers.
Brittany Russo, owner of Kiya Marie by the Sea, offers shoppers her own eco-friendly sea glass jewelry as well as a selection of locally made, often one-of-a-kind works of art, photography, locally made artisanal foods, beauty products, home accessories, apparel and more.
Opening in August of 2020, the shop is located on Route 6A in Sandwich, next door to the Sandwich Arts Alliance. “I got lucky with the space,” said Ms. Russo, adding, “it’s perfect. It’s a nice compliment to have the Sandwich Arts Alliance next door, they are more of a gallery and we are more of a retail space.”
A resident of Sandwich, Ms. Russo started her jewelry business in 2013 and while her work sells well in her online shop, “I’m not one of those people who can be completely online updating a website and trying to attract followers,” she said. “I like to interact with people in person. When I found this space I knew I could have my jewelry here but that I couldn’t fill the whole space, so I tried to think of things that went well together and that other stores don’t already have, unique things that are handcrafted and well made. There are a lot of different local artists represented. I love everything in here.”
Ms. Russo said she’s gotten compliments on the talent represented in the shop and that the wide price range of the merchandise is appreciated. Also, despite an abundance of inventory, the shop has open and inviting atmosphere, one that Ms. Russo said she cultivates on purpose. “I get overwhelmed myself in crowded stores with too much to look at. You might have to go around twice to see everything but you can look around and skim the surface and see if there’s anything that interests you or jumps out at you. I do want to leave it open concept.”
Wreaths made from braided rope, locally sourced salt, embroidered coaster sets, nature photography, merino wool throws, local pottery, local honey and beach totes sourced from recycled beach chairs and umbrellas are just a few of the items for sale inside the store.
Named for her dog, Kiya Marie by the Sea sprang from Ms. Russo’s participation in a collective gallery in Mashpee Commons. “I really wanted to be somewhere where I could have my jewelry but also a space for other artists to have their work as well.”
Ms. Russo has made good on that pledge and is taking it a step further this summer by hosting pop-up artisan markets outdoors, alongside the shop’s parking lot. The first market was held on Memorial Day weekend and seven more are planned for Saturdays: June 12, June 26, July 3, July 17, July 31, August 14 and August 28. The vendors will each set up under individual tents. “I’m trying to keep it to just five or six tents to keep it small,” said Ms. Russo. “I want it to be well-attended but I don’t want it to be disruptive.”
Ms. Russo said future markets might also include a musical component.
One of the reasons Ms. Russo cited for hosting the markets is that “people are so anxious to get out of the house and do activities. I was lucky enough hold a market right after Thanksgiving last November and it was well attended and socially distant; the weather was good and everything went well.”
Some of the vendors also have items for sale inside Kiya Marie by the Sea while others are new. “It’s a good mix,” said Ms. Russo. “Some of the artists I haven’t met before, which is exciting for me because I get to see new work and see if there are things I want to stock in the shop.”
Upcoming vendors for this Saturday’s market are: The Happy Lotus Candles, Natasha’s Studio Art, Cape Cod Home Remedies, Gull Cottage Crafts, Lucia Moon Designs and Snowy Owl Coffee.
Participating vendors are also donating items for a raffle each week which will benefit a different local non-profit group.
Ms. Russo said that finding vendors for the Saturday pop-ups was relatively easy and that she received over 50 applications for the approximately 40 vendor spots she had available. What was difficult was sorting through the vendors and the dates they had chosen and trying to place them on the right Saturdays without overlapping categories so there would be plenty of variety among the vendors. Ms. Russo said she paid close attention to the categories, “so people aren’t seeing the same things every weekend.”
This Saturday’s artisan market outside Kiya Marie by the Sea will take place from 10 AM to 4 PM. A list of future artisan pop up vendors can be found on Kiya Marie’s website.