Local artisans and patrons attend the Meeting Street Artisan Market at the West Columbia Interactive Art Park. (Photos by Raymond Escoto)

The Meeting Street Artisan Market gives local artists and craftsmen the opportunity to showcase their work weekly.

The West Columbia market, first held in 2019, gives visitors a fun and safe place to support artisans from their neck of the woods.

“All of our artists create art locally,” said Anna Huffman, the city’s director of public relations. “It’s really important to have them as part of our community and watch them create.”

The market hosts a maximum of 26 vendors, and 100-400 guests regularly attend, Huffman said.

Sonya Brown, owner of Hilltop Handwoven, was a vendor during a recent market. She has been weaving for six years but has been making fiber art since she was 10 years old.

“You have to have a market like this to showcase what your work is,” Brown said. “With something like textiles, people want to touch it, feel it and see what the quality is like before they purchase it.”

Brown wasn’t the only artisan who was grateful for the opportunity the market provides.

Cindy McLafferty owns Cindy’s Turn, a pen-making and wood-turning business. She uses her profits to send care packages to deployed U.S. soldiers overseas.

“You can’t always see what people make by hand unless you’re in a market like this,” McLafferty said. “I wish more people would come out to them.”

Xavier Alexander, owner of 22 Memory Lane, a candle and scent business, called markets such as this one “very important” because they allow artisans like him “to put their businesses out more to people who need to hear (about) it.”

Madolyn Murpho has a real soft spot for the market. She owns Creations by Murpho, a mixed media business that produces art like stickers, magnets and canvases.

“This market doesn’t charge vendors to come and set up,” Murpho said. “This market is extremely vital to me because I get to actually sell things and make money without it having to cut into the profits.”

But one artisan looked at the market in a different and fun way. 

Walker Clarke said he has lived in Columbia for five generations and owns WalkerStix, a business specializing in handmade canes made from S.C.-sourced hardwood. Clarke said his work is both a retirement hobby and an “art form.”

 “I don’t look at it as a business,” he said. “I just look at it for people who will come by and say, ‘I’ve just got to have that cane!’”

The market is held every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and second Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the West Columbia Interactive Art Park. The park is behind State Street, just across the Congaree River from downtown Columbia.

Sonya Brown, owner of Hilltop Handwoven, works a loom during the market.

Xavier Alexander, owner of 22 Memory Lane, serves customers at his market stall.

Walker Clarke, owner of WalkerStix, mans his booth, where he sells canes.