Update: This listing incorrectly stated the address for the OPEN holiday markets was within La Villita. This article has been changed to reflect that the OPEN holiday market will be held along E. Houston Street.
There is more than one alternative to shopping at big boxes, the mall, or online. Here is NOWCastSA’s list of the most unique and unusual local places to shop in San Antonio.
The International Peace Market by the Esperanza Center (922 San Pedro) has offered a socially conscious alternative for holiday shopping for 27 years. The Peace Market provides a free and family-friendly environment that centers the importance of moments and spaces where people gather as a community. More than 100 vendors will offer handcrafted and imported items such as rugs, pottery, paintings, sculptures, jewelry and much more!
Friday-Saturday, Nov. 25-26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 27, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The holiday art bazaar Articopia is returning to the Southwest School of Art (300 Augusta Street) this year with more artists, a greater variety of gift items, and a larger footprint on the historic campus. Live music, libations, and food trucks will keep you energized as you shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.
Friday, Dec. 2, 6-9 p.m. (Members Only); Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Open to the Public)
'Hecho a Mano' means 'Made by Hand' and this 30th anniversary event at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (723 South Brazos) will celebrate creative products from traditional and contemporary artists. And this three-day shopping event gives the consumer an opportunity to give back to the community. A minimal donation allows entrance to a plaza of arts and crafts all created by local artisans. Food collected will benefit the Inner City Development Food Bank.
Friday, Dec, 2, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ($10 admission); Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ($2 or two canned goods)
The Holiday Fair centers around the gazebo (at Turner and King William streets) and features artists and craftsmen as well as food and beverage vendors. The King William Association will be selling collectible holiday ornaments and 50th Anniversary medals and T-shirts. Santa Claus will make an appearance and fun activities will keep kids entertained. Adults will enjoy the live entertainment. While the fair is free, tickets for the tour of six historic houses are $15 pre-sale.
Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The San Antonio Museum of Art (220 W. Jones) features holiday shopping with local artisans and gift shop objects. Participants can enjoy free gallery tours at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and everyone can find artful items for the hard-to-please recipient. Members get a 10 percent discount on museum shop purchases. Come for the art and shopping at the Museum; stay for the holiday lights and sights on the Museum Reach.
Saturday, Dec. 3, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Kwanzaa Market Festival (3455 Martin Luther King Dr.) is a cultural community event to promote the celebration of Kwanzaa and to support African-American businesses. This event features entertainment by musicians and performers (Sequential Drums, Vocab, and Elisha Carruth), food (a fish dinner), cultural vendors (books, jewelry, clothing and art), educational information, and much more.
Saturday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Southwest Workers Union (1416 E. Commerce Street) welcomes the San Antonio Queer Collective as they present the fourth annual Holiday Market and Celebration. This handmade market and holiday celebration will feature local LGBTQ and ally artists, crafters and makers. There will be entertainment and music by Alyson Alonzo, Polly Anna and others. Tamale plates, beer, and wine will be available for donation.
Saturday, Dec. 3, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Celebration Circle (in the SAY Si Arts Complex, 1518 S. Alamo) is an inclusive, multi-faith community with a creative approach to spirituality. Its members are composed of inventive artists, painters, jewelers, musicians, authors, and culinarians. Before and after services on the first two Sundays in December, the Circle will present a beautiful array of artistry at affordable prices.
Sunday, Dec. 4 and 11, 10 to 11 a.m. and 12 to 1 p.m.
Gemini Ink (a nonprofit, independent literary center at 1111 Navarro) will host a week-long mini-bazaar. The bibliophiles on your gift list will be pleased with the assortment of books, chapbooks, broadsides and other interesting ephemera. Featured items include their “Odes to Nature” calendar by children of the Ella Austin Community Center and Inkstravaganza “Truth is Beauty” t-shirts designed by Cruz Ortiz.
Monday-Friday, Dec. 5-9, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day
The market will take place on two weekends, Dec. 9-11 and Dec. 16-18 and the shops will be open Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in 217 and 231 E. Houston St. OPEN is an initiative of the Center City Development and Operations Department (CCDO) in partnership with property owners and retailers to offer local entrepreneurs a no-cost short-term lease in vacant downtown properties. The program activates vacant properties by introducing new, creative, and temporary retail locations with visual aesthetic. OPEN creates an environment that engages customers and authenticates downtown as a vibrant urban space, ready for long-term investment. For more information, visit www.opensanantonio.com.
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 11, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 18, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wonderland of the Americas (4522 Fredericksburg Road) and Inspiration 4 Life presents a Local Heroes and Christmas Community Celebration. This extravaganza is a reception for local heroes, a vendor Showcase Fashion Show, a market of individual merchants, an exposition of live entertainment, and much more. There will be special appearances by the Texas Red Wolves ABA Professional Basketball Team and the Lady Red Wolves WABA Professional Basketball Team. Other events include a silent auction, live radio broadcast, and an appearance by Santa Claus.
Sunday, Dec. 18, 3 to 6 p.m.
This last-minute shopper’s paradise at the Brick (108 Blue Star) will feature the creative items of BarbacoApparel, Karma Candle Makers, Sweet Craft Jewelry, VeryThat, and others. Panifico Bake Shop will be there with pan dulce samples to taste and purchase. Take some selfies with the props at the holiday photo booth. Even if you’ve already completed your x-mas shopping, the second annual Brickmas is not to be missed.
Friday, Dec. 23, 3-10 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 24, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
**Cover Image courtesy of Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.