Grassroots uproots, moving to Academy Street for fair

Grassroots will host Curio Market, an outdoor event with shopping, music and food, on Oct. 3.


Named for a special trinket, Curio Market will take over Academy Street on Oct. 3 for a day of shopping, food and fun. Main Street store Grassroots came up with the event, their largest to date, in an effort to promote local businesses.

Curio will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., bringing with it 20 food trucks, fashion trucks and vendors’ booths for a street fair, according to a press release from Grassroots.

Kristen Short, Grassroots’ co-owner, said sometimes it seems that people see Newark as just a place to eat. She hopes that Curio will showcase the town’s offerings in terms of shopping as well.

“Some of the things that are driving us to do this have to do with [the fact that] we have a lot of restaurants on Main Street and we have a lot of restaurant-oriented events,” Short says. “The retail that exists on Main Street, we are sort of feeling like we would love for there to be more retail.”

She says the event could also be a kind of “small business incubator,” where small business owners who sell products out of their homes could dip a toe into the water of Newark retail and decide if they wanted to expand to a storefront.

Even so, many of the businesses coming out for Saturday’s event would still be recognizable to the average university student: the press release lists Alex and Ani, Bloom, Moxie Boutique, and UDairy, among other campus-adjacent vendors. Of course, Grassroots’ own mobile shop will also be in attendance.

Businesses from other areas will also be out selling their wares, according to Short. In general, Curio will focus on boutique-style, handmade and vintage goods, as well as gourmet-packaged foods.

Lizz Vernon, a manager at Grassroots, says going to Curio is different than just popping into a store to pick up a gift for a friend. Far more than a place to run errands, Vernon calls Curio a “shopping experience” because of its food and entertainment.

According to the press release, the Wilmington band Travel Songs and New Jersey group The Quixote Project will play at the event, lending music to the street fair.

Vernon says Curio is something different for Newark and its surrounding areas.

“There are craft fairs all over the county and stuff like that, and [there are art fairs], but nothing really around the Newark area for crafty king-of shopping events,” she says. “I think that will be really cool to do, [it’s] something different.”

Vernon says that for herself, as well as for Grassroots co-owners Kristen Short and Joanna Staib, Curio’s success will be based on its turnout: they look forward to a large event attendance, and hope their first Curio Market will not be their last.

“If people come and people have a good time, that’s what’s going to make it worth it for us,” Vernon says. “It will be good if people come to the store and they shop, but what’s really going to make it worth it is if we can get a whole bunch of people and if we can grow this event so that 10 years down the line, we have people lining up wanting to be a part of it.”

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