Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 28, 2015
Shortly after the doors opened on Saturday for the Urban Garage Sale — about the time the disc jockey was cranking up The Mighty Tom Cats’ version of “Soul Makossa” — a line of people snaked around two sides of a city block waiting to get in.
Turner Hall Ballroom in downtown Milwaukee can accommodate just under 1,000 people, so admission was halted until some of the early entrants left. Fifteen thousand people had said on Facebook that they planned to attend, and by noon, about 2,000 shoppers had been through the doors, said Brian Holoubek, founder of Heavy Rotation, a Milwaukee company with a global high-end T-shirt business that runs the event.
The sale, which featured 61 vendors, is one of many in the area and around the country that focus on handcrafted, locally made merchandise. It took place on “Small Business Saturday,” an initiative started by American Express in 2010 to promote shopping at local businesses.
Independent retailers reported a 4.8% growth in holiday sales last year, according to the 2015 Independent Business Survey published by Advocates for Independent Business and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Those groups have said they expect even larger gains this year, particularly in areas that have “Local First” campaigns, which highlight the economic and social benefits of locally owned businesses.
Other such events in coming weeks include: Local First Milwaukee’s Buy Local Gift Fair at Mitchell Park Conservatory on Nov. 30; Cream City Creatives’ Holiday Show at Turner Hall and Hovercraft 2015 at the Pritzlaff on Dec. 13; the Handmade Holiday Pop Up Boutique at Permanent Baggage on Sundays through Dec. 23; and the Pfister Holiday Marketplace, which runs through Dec. 24, Thursdays through Sundays and Tuesday through Thursday of Christmas week.