Inside the Randolph Street Market unique collections of merchandise provide Chicagoans with a shopping experience no department store can match.
Vintage jewelry, handcrafted home décor, throwback Christmas decorations and restructured clothing are just some of the items available for purchase.
Sally Schwartz founded the Randolph Street Market in 2003.
“I was a party planner and decorated with purchases made at these types of markets,” she said. “There wasn’t a single market in downtown Chicago. I had to sell the concept to antique dealers who didn’t think the city dwellers would support the idea but they were curious enough to try it and found there was a deep need for just this market.”
Besides the Holiday Markets, Randolph Street Market spin offs include the Chicago Antique Market, the Indie Designer Market and Modern Vintage Chicago.
The atmosphere is fun and upbeat with a cash bar, food for purchase and live music.
Markets held indoors include up to 90 vendors while markets that are also held outdoors can include up to 300.
One of those vendors is Elyse Vieni. Her jewelry line, E by Elyse Marie Vieni, includes one-of-a-kind, handmade necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
“I am a self-taught designer and I constantly learn and experiment with new processes and methods,” Vieni said. “Since my childhood, fashion has been a dominant factor of my life and a means of self expression. Even with the abundance of designers to choose from, I could never find the proper statement pieces that suited my style.”
Vieni describes her designs as being for the confident and fearless woman. She says her jewelry doesn’t necessarily fit into the fashion rulebook. She has been featured in various magazines, and actress America Ferrera has worn her jewelry.
Vieni’s pieces range in price from $30 to upwards of $700.
Dealers will frequently negotiate with buyers or advertise discounts.
Designer Redgi Woods has found his niche with making old things new again. He focuses on reconstructing men and women’s vintage clothing.
“I love the markets,” he said. “This is my fifth one.”
Woods, who named his brand ReFINDefined, also refurbishes chandeliers by decorating them with an unexpected twist such as brightly colored tassles.
Some other items for sale at the markets include designer handbags, a hand-carved rocking horse, specialty candies and chocolates and a lamp with a 1950s era parking meter as its base.
Brave shoppers who are looking for an especially unique gift can have a nude portrait sketched of them. All work is done behind the privacy of a curtain and subject can be as bare as their comfort level allows.
Many vendors do not have credit card machines.
The second round of the Holiday Markets and the last of the year will be held Dec. 15 and 16. All markets are at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington St.
Although the entrance is on Washington Street, the building does stretch back to Randolph Street.
Visit Randolph Street Market’s website to purchase discounted tickets or for directions.