Vintage Market on Squam Lake
Vintage Market on Squam Lake
A spring breeze blew fresh air off Squam Lake as cars lined Route 3, stretching a third of a mile past Cottage Place in each direction. On any given weekend, Cottage Place provides cozy, lakeside accommodations to out-of-towners, but on two weekends per year, it transforms into a vivid blend of colors, music and delectable food smells at the biannual Vintage Market on Squam Lake. Tourists and locals all flock to join the buzz and jump into the maze of beautiful antiques, incredible upcycled items, and homemade art pieces, all sandwiched between food trucks, libations, and live music.
The Vintage Market is the brainchild of two local business owners, Sue Smith and Stacey Lucas. Sue has owned Cottage Place on Squam Lake for twenty years, and is the middle link in her business’ strong legacy of women. Sue’s mother invested in her business from the start, and now Sue’s daughter Nathalie Palmer is manager of Cottage Place and an incomparable member of the team who makes the Market happen. “[Nathalie] is instrumental in organizing vendors, helping with phone calls, emails, and inquiries,” Sue said. Stacey Lucas, better known as VeggieArtGirl, runs a graphic design business where she creates promotional materials for a variety of clients, including the Common Man franchise. She also owns Fig Tree Gallery in Ashland.
The two women boast fifteen years of friendship, and both love all things vintage. One of their favorite joint pastimes has always been visiting vintage events around New England. They had several years of these visits under their belts when on one drive home, they discussed what they would do differently if they ran their own event. This hypothetical situation quickly became a reality when just ten weeks later in May 2018, Sue and Stacey were hosting their first Vintage Market at Cottage Place.
In those ten weeks, Sue and Stacey did a tremendous amount of brainstorming, planning, and hard work. At other events they’d visited, they’d observed attending could be expensive and uncomfortable for the vendors, as they usually had to drive far from home and had to pay not only for vending space, but also separate lodging and restaurants, all of which ate profit from the event itself. Sue and Stacey wanted to elevate their vendor experience so that their vendors had just as much fun as their customers and were able to maximize their profits. They accomplished this by offering a “Stay and Sell” package, where vendors could rent lodging from Cottage Place and a vending spot for a special rate. This provided vendors with all their creature comforts, like their own kitchen and bathroom on site.
Vendors Marty Jones, Lita Hogan, and Monica Riley are co-owners of Antiques on Elm in Manchester, NH, and thoroughly enjoy the “Stay and Sell” package. It was their second time participating in the event. “We make it a little weekend getaway,” said Marty. “We’re hitting an unusual market that we don’t often see in Manchester.”
Vendor Dave Dupuis from Acorn Hollow Repurposing in Campton said, “I was skeptical of the idea at first, even though I’ve been friends with Sue for years. But then, once the word got out [for the market], there were no cabins left [at Cottage Place]!” Dupuis, a retired high school construction teacher, has been selling his repurposed items at the market since its inception. The people love his wooden puzzles, cupboards made from old shutters and bird houses built on antique spades, pitchforks, and other tools. “We buy from one another,” he said about his fellow vendors. “I go looking for things I can repurpose.” He said there is no competition at the market, only cooperation.
Another way Sue and Stacey keep their vendors returning is their consistent publicity and marketing. Stacey creates profiles and personal stories for each vendor and promotes them year round on their website and social media pages. “Vending with us will expose their business to about 1,500 to 2,000 attendees per market,” said Sue. “Many of our vendors will receive consignment orders throughout the whole year.” Jeff LeBlanc of Riverglass Customs, who creates beautiful hand-poured resin art, agreed by saying his presence at the market has paved the way for future commissions. “It’s a good opportunity to learn what people want and gain custom projects,” he said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 hit, Sue and Stacey were forced to cancel their May market when lodging shut down. However, they didn’t miss a beat and applied for permission to run their fall market that October, lined up the necessary sanitizing stations, and created signs about masks and social distancing. Because of their efficient willingness to adapt, they were able to hold an autumn market and the area welcomed it with extra enthusiasm. “People were starving to be outside and have something to do,” Sue said.
The May 2021 Vintage Market was the seventh event for Sue and Stacey and a grand success with forty-eight vendors and 2,000 visitors throughout the weekend, as well as three food trucks and a variety of local live musicians. The vintage fun was off the charts, and it only ignited Sue, Stacey, and Nathalie with more excitement for their next market on October 23-24, 2021.