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Shoppers from Northfield and beyond visited Mercado Local during the first three weekend afternoons in December. (Photo courtesy of Mar Valdecantos)

For three weekend afternoons in December, Northfield holiday shoppers didn’t need a passport to purchase authentic treasurers from Mexico and Latin America.

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More brightly colored and uniquely Latin American merchandise sold at Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

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Nohemy Rodriguez was one of seven vendors at the Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Mar Valdecantos)

Instead, a festively decorated holiday Mercado Local or local market was staged at the newly renovated Depot, 204 Third St. W. Inspired in part by the successful Mercado Central in Minneapolis, local organizers said the December weekends were a trial run for additional markets to be held throughout this year.

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The Mercado Local, held at the Northfield Depot on the first three weekends of December, featured handmade merchandise from seven local vendors. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

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All handmade items at the Mercado Local had a distinctive Latin American theme. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

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Shoppers found the handmade scented candles by Taide Rodriguez perfect for holiday gifts. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

Sponsored by Rice County Neighbors United, the first Mercado Local featured unique and colorful clothing, jewelry, books, candles, art and crafts, most of which originated in Latin American countries.

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Graphic artist Rocky Casillas shows his designs at Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

Taide Rodriguez, who makes scented candles, headbands with bows and butterflies, and colorful earrings, said she was “very pleased with sales and good foot traffic at the market” especially during the three Saturdays of December.

“I love to sell what I make,” Rodriguez said with the help of an interpreter. “I want to expand my inventory to create homemade soap. I want my merchandise to reflect the holiday and season, which is why I make candles for winter and cold weather.”

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Small, whimsical cactus and figurines from Mercado Local made excellent holiday gifts, (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

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Handmade butterfly hair accessories sold well during December’s Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

Another Mercado vendor and organizer, Veronica Jimenez, said, through an interpreter, she learned from owning a store that sold Hispanic clothing and quinceañera dresses and gifts, that Northfield “had a lot of interest in Mexican products and was a good place to hold a Mexican market.”

Jimenez said that enough holiday shoppers visited the Mercado Local from small towns around Northfield to purchase the one of a kind Hispanic accessories and gifts that all seven vendors will return with new wares for the next market.

“Everyone was happy to make extra money in time for Christmas,” Jimenez said.

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Delightful paper flower and fabric swags brightened up the Northfield depot during Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Mar Valdecantos)

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Paper flower decorations transformed the Northfield depot into an authentic Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Mar Valdecantos)

Mar Valdecantos, director of RCNU, explained that promoting minority-owned businesses in the area was one of the initial goals of the organizing team that included Charlie Kyte, a member of the Northfield Downtown Development Corp., and Nate Carlson, who represents city staff on the Economic Development Authority. Valdecantos said a grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation for business development, a little funding for rent from EDA, and talks about a lease with the depot people, all helped seal the deal.

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Beautiful paper flowers by Nohemy Rodriguez were popular with Mercado Local shoppers. (Photo courtesy of Mar Valdecantos)

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Brightly colored paper flowers by Nohemy Rodriguez adorned the walls of the depot during Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Mar Valdecantos)

Rodriguez said the vendors discussed holding the next weekend market later in January to capitalize on gifts for on Valentine’s Day.

“There’s even talk about holding a market in May before Mother’s Day,” she said.

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Graphic artist Rocky Casillas shows his designs at Mercado Local. (Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rosas)

Jimenez said many customers asked if the Mercado Local would offer authentic foods in the future. She and Rodriguez said they both agree that food vendors would increase the foot traffic to the market, especially during warmer months when tents could be used in the depot’s parking lots.

“We need to start working on getting the proper food licensing and permits,” said Valdecantos.

“We’re very excited the market keeps growing,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a great way to showcase the talents of the Hispanic community to the people here in Northfield.”

Pamela Thompson is the associate editor for the Northfield News. Reach her at 507-645-1115 or pamela.thompson@apgsomn.com.

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