Sunday, July 21, 2024

The Zooguu store selling whimsical stuffed-animal taxidermy is one of 15 vendors coming Thursday to the Winter Market at Canal District Kendall. (Photo: Zooguu)

If not for Virginia Johnson and the Winter Market she’s curating Thursday in Canal District Kendall, you might never get that taxidermied unicorn head for the wall in your study.

But Nahant-based Zooguu will sell its faux taxidermy of T-Rexes, jackalopes, narwhals, chickens and more – actually cute stuffed animal heads – alongside hot sauces, honeys, art prints, wood jewelry and other area artists and food makers at the event, a collaboration between BioMed Realty, the East Cambridge Business Association and Johnson, who runs Inman Square’s Gather Here, a sewing studio, fabric and yarn shop and community space.

To put together a winter market after hosting various arts activities, BioMed reached out to the business association. The association turned to Johnson. Johnson’s first contact was Jen Gubicza at Zooguu – a small-market pro.

Virginia Johnson of Gather Here curated the vendors for Thursday’s Winter Market. (Photo: Mel Taing via Facebook)

“I wanted to kind of test the waters to see if doing a market the very first week of December on a Thursday made sense,” Johnson said. “Because I always think any opportunity to introduce local makers to a different audience is awesome, but sometimes I need to get a reality check.”

If the Winter Market goes well, it will return in future years, said Andrea Windhausen, community manager at BioMed Realty, who praised Johnson’s ability to curate vendors for the market and stay in touch with them as the event came near. This version will bring together vendors, two food providers – Commonwealth Cambridge and Zinnekens Waffle Truck – and music from the Cambridge Street Upper Street Chorus, all under a giant, heated tent between the Kendall Square boat launch and parking garage kiosk. (A mini-wreath making workshop with Albertine Press takes place at the nearby CultureHouse popup, and a wine tasting takes place at Cambridge Spirits. Look for ice sculpture, as well.)

The initial concept was for 10 sellers. “I actually asked if we could do at least 15, just to kind of put together a diverse offering. And I just have found over time that having a bigger group draws a bigger crowd,” Johnson said. “But I also didn’t want it to be an overwhelming amount of people.”

“We definitely chose 15 people who made products that were different from one another but could appeal to a wide audience. If you’re shopping for people who love food and locally sourced food, you’re going to find something for them; if you have people that are really dedicated to local and show a lot of Cambridge pride, I would check out Yeiou,” which makes architectural portraits and shadow-box maps made of paper, Johnson said. Many of the vendors also emphasize the sustainability of their work.

Among the variety, Johnson identified a handful of vendors that might be of special interest.

There’s insider news, for instance, of a potential Barry’s Hot Sauce shortage. “I just saw Barry yesterday at The Druid, and he was saying that he had to go in on Thanksgiving morning and make more batches because he’s running low on certain flavors,” Johnson said.

Barry Shannon cooks a limited-run version of the original Barry’s Hot Sauce made with fresh Carolina reapers on Nov. 14. (Photo: Barry’s Hot Sauce via Facebook)

The hand-knit headbands, beanies and scarves of Juliette Pecaut Designs are new to the area compared with some vendors. “Especially with this early start of winter, we’d encourage people to drop by and get something handmade from her,” Johnson said.

And the goods at Herd Supply Co. – such things as soap of sheeps’ milk or rose cardamom – may feel new to the area all over again, since owner Leah Beckett has been out of the country for about a year. “Everything she produces actually originates from her family’s farm in Connecticut,” Johnson said.

For the East Cambridge Business Association, the Winter Market is a chance to introduce “thousands of daily workers to many small businesses from our thriving local maker community,” said Jason Alves, the ECBA’s executive director. “It’s important to be shopping local during the holiday season.”

In addition to Barry’s, Juliette Pecaut Designs and Herd Supply, vendors at the market are expected to be Beverly Bees, Doves & Figs, Fawn Over Me, Foxfire Creative Studio, Gray Green Goods, Lexi’s Treefort, Little Bear Illustration, Loyal Supply, Maisonwares, Treeline & Tide and Yeiou.

The market runs noon to 8 p.m. Thursday. Information is here.