Gifts, Art and Community: Serving Bayfield
Just off of Highway 160 through Bayfield, Bayberry Market serves the area as a vibrant destination for those seeking gifts, art and artisan goods. However, hand-in-hand with this mission, Bayberry continually strives to serve as a local artists’ community.
Bayberry got its start a few years ago, but its new owner discovered her passion for making and selling art well beforehand. Though a mathematician by trade, Jessica Wanless learned to make jewelry when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Beading and jewelry proved to be a therapeutic pastime for her mother, and the two would spend time together exploring what could be done with stone, bead and wire.
It wasn’t until Wanless visited Bayberry Market, to buy an Adirondack chair, that she became actively involved in the community there. By happenstance, the resident jewelry maker at the time was moving away, leaving a hole for new talent to fill. Wanless jumped at the opportunity.
When it eventually came time for the previous owner to put Bayberry up for sale, earlier this year to focus more on her pottery, painting and personal matters at home, it seemed like a no-brainer that Wanless and her husband go in on it. She had previous experience running retail shops back when her parents decided to retire (she made sure to always carry beads so mom could keep making her jewelry) and didn’t want Bayfield’s local artists’ market to disappear from the community.
“I wanted to keep a gift shop available to the local residents and tourists here in Bayfield, as well as keeping [Bayberry Market] going as a venue for local artists to sell their products,” Wanless said. “I didn’t want to see that close down.”
She opened the doors under her ownership in July.
Wanless is especially proud of the selection of items offered at Bayberry Market, which ranges from locally-made artisan soap to decorative furniture. Working with a wide range of artists allows her to offer a selection with an appeal to locals and tourists alike at a range of prices.
She’s been careful to create a friendly, warm environment that welcomes both active shoppers and casual perusers without pressure.
Beyond gift and art retail, Bayberry offers events and classes to get more of the community involved. Wanless hosts an artist to do henna tattoos every Sunday and a potter provides a range of casual pottery classes intermittently. Recently, customers were encouraged to bring pets in to make forever paw prints with clay and other pottery classes are in the works. Wanless is considering recruiting more artists to offer classes in their specific trades.
She’s always eager to bring more folks onboard, too. Artists are welcome to visit and show a body of representative work for consideration. As long as the artist is pricing items fairly and doesn’t conflict with an existing artist at Bayberry, Wanless offers a single contract for everyone.
To keep the lights on, Bayberry Market charges artists a consignment fee, which can be earned back with a day of work at the market, and receives 30 percent of sales. Wanless is working on a second type of contract, though, to make it easier for artists with smaller inventories to showcase their wares at Bayberry. When she works out the kinks, she hopes that more people will have the opportunity to sell through the market.
Starting in October, Bayberry Market will begin accepting packages for shipment via UPS, the only location to do so in that area. For Wanless, it works from two angles. On one hand, she’s able to bring a level of convenience to folks who need an easy location to ship from. On the other, it will get more people through her door and, with any luck, interested in what Bayberry and its community of artists have to offer.