Stone Mill Market celebrating three years in Bloomington
More than 3,000 visitors turned out on a frigid Saturday in Feb. 2016 to shop three dozen vendors at the inaugural Stone Mill Market. The event took place at the historic Woolery Stone Mill on Bloomington's south side and featured art, antiques, collectibles, clothing, furniture, woodworking, food, jewelry, ceramics, health and beauty products, and children's items. Since that first event, equal crowds have flocked to the subsequent markets.
The Stone Mill Market, conceived by The Herald-Times, is modeled after The Brooklyn Flea, a weekly eclectic shopping event housed in a Brooklyn, NY warehouse. Herald-Times staff visited Brooklyn in Dec. 2015 to learn more about The Flea in order to create a similar event in Bloomington.
The Stone Mill Market proved to be a popular attraction in Bloomington. The event's Facebook page has garnered nearly 5,000 fans in its first year, and recent events have hosted more than 60 vendors each.
Serena Schamp, owner of Dip Chick Dip, explained first-time events are often avoided by established vendors due to a "long list of unknowns," including planning, promotion, and attendance.
"The promotion was excellent and the event is unique. I had a good feeling about this one, and I was right; I've never seen this kind of turnout for a first event," Schamp said of her decision to sign up for the first market. Dip Chick Dip has attended every Stone Mill Market, even during the Aug. off-season, which Schamp says they typically avoid.
Nate's Candy Jar, a local confectioner known for its selection of fudge, has also found success at The Stone Mill Markets. The business, which recently expanded into dog-appropriate treats it calls Fido's Fudge, has nearly sold out of them at every market.
Throughout its first year, the Stone Mill Market team made various improvements to the planning, including a nonprofit partnership with Community Kitchen to provide parking direction for the crowds of visitors at the events. Community Kitchen provides over 200,000 meals and snacks to those in need every year.
By Nov. 2016, The Stone Mill Market had outgrown the space at the Woolery Stone Mill and moved to a new location, The Warehouse in Bloomington. An aptly named venue that still harkens to the market's rustic roots, The Warehouse provides virtually unlimited potential for growth - and more reliable climate in all months - for the markets.
The Nov. 2016 Stone Mill Market also featured a Friday evening preview party, a ticketed event offering early access, gift bags, appetizers, and live music. The preview event will return for the Nov. 2017 Stone Mill Market.
To celebrate its first anniversary, The Stone Mill Market surprised its vendors and visitors with The Stone Mill Gazette, a take-home event guide that included information and a map, exclusive coupons, and a directory listing of all the vendors in attendance. In addition to providing visitors with useful information on the day of the event, the Gazette's vendor directory is designed to extend the visitor-vendor connection beyond the one-day event. A new copy of The Stone Mill Gazette will be free for visitors at each Stone Mill Market in 2019.
Having built a regional reputation as a quality, yet eclectic, shopping event, The Stone Mill Market team is optimistic for 2019 and will continue to grow and improve the event. More information about upcoming markets is available on The Stone Mill Market's Facebook page.
Announcing our 2019 market dates:
Space location is on a first come, first serve basis.