Snowport Holiday Market brings opportunities for small businesses


Kelly Chan

Visitors amble past stands in Snowport Holiday Market. The market, located in Seaport, features dozens of small businesses from all over New England.

Christina McCabe, news staff

Snowport Holiday Market was packed with eager crowds Dec. 8, bundled head-to-toe in winter gear. Dozens of people bustled through the crowd to secure their place in line for a crepe. Some headed for an alpaca fur shop, while others made their way towards an Irish spirit stand. A handful loitered in front of a Chopstick Art booth, clutching hot chocolate. Overhead string lights illuminated the cluster of stands that sprung to life in the place of a once desolate parking lot.

The market, located at 65 Northern Ave., has brought festivities to the Seaport District for the holiday season. Occurring annually since 2018, it’s continued to grow in popularity and success each year. 

The market consists of over 120 small vendors, some local to Boston, while others come from various locations throughout New England. Vendors sell food and drinks, handmade items, art and many more unique products. While some may assume that these small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, they are in fact thriving this holiday season due to the foot traffic and popularity the market brings.

“We opened up with a bang,” said Angie Mini, an employee at The Frenchman’s Crepes, a pop-up gourmet crepe shop. “We could not see the other side of the courtyard on Saturday until we closed, like we work all day from 11 to nine.”

The Frenchman’s Crepes has no permanent location, and is only featured at pop-up events and markets. The shop made its debut over the summer at another pop-up event, also in the Seaport District. The Frenchman’s Crepes’s owner, Olivier Miller, was the general manager of Snowport in 2021. He decided to bring his own business to the market this year after the shop’s success over the summer.

“I wasn’t here last year, but from what I’ve been told, it’s bigger, it’s better, it’s more together, it’s more cohesive,” Mini said.

Now that the market has expanded to more than double the vendors as last year, there is more room for unique and “niche” vendors, Mini said. 

Miller, the shop’s owner, is a Frenchman who couldn’t find a good crepe place in Boston — so he created his own authentic French crepe shop.

Crystal Rock Maple, a family-owned maple syrup shop from Livermore, Maine, set itself apart with its gift packaging and unusual goodies and sweets, such as maple syrup flavored cotton candy. 

Andrea Malm is the head of marketing for Crystal Rock Maple. This is the shop’s first year attending the market, and Malm has already noticed how successful this holiday season will be for her family’s business, all of which, she said, is because of Snowport.

“We have a majority of our sales going towards gift giving,” Malm said. “So, this [market] is our demographic.”

Whereas most of the vendors operate outside of the city, there are some local vendors as well.

“Our business in the winter months has been slower, but [the market] has helped us market ourselves from a different approach,” said Skylar Slayer, the chief operating officer  of Wicked Dog, an apparel company based in Faneuil Hall. “We sell to a lot of people that are not from Boston, so [the market] is really helping us sell locally as well.”

While it may seem like nothing but success for these businesses, some, if not all, have faced problems finding and affording the materials necessary for production. Since many operate on a smaller, local scale, they operate with a narrow selection of products at their disposal. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, production of goods slowed significantly due to less demand. Now that the pandemic has lessened in severity, essential materials to thousands of companies’ products have fallen behind in production, making them not only difficult to purchase, but also expensive.

Cinder + Salt is a family-owned business based in Middletown, Connecticut, that creates eco-friendly clothing and accessories. Jackie O’Keefe, who works at the shop, said the business has had to make changes to their production due to many necessary materials being out of stock. Even though it would be easier to switch to cheaper, non-eco-friendly material, the business wants to “stay true” to its customers and sustainable mission. What comes with keeping their eco-friendly brand, however, is the need to raise their prices.

“You have to adapt to this economy,” O’Keefe said. “But customers who enjoy this brand are happy to spend a bit more for good quality.” 

Despite the challenges these vendors have faced this season, most are not worried about losing sales or going out of business. Instead, they are looking forward to expanding after the success Snowport Market helped them achieve. Cinder + Salt is on schedule to open its second location in Provincetown, Massachusetts, next summer. The Frenchman’s Crepes is also looking to open their very first permanent location, Mini said.  

“I have a feeling that you’re going to see a physical location within the next year,” Mini said. “It’s amazing how people can fill a niche when they have an idea, and this market allowed us to make that idea a reality.”