Justice center offers an alternative to Black Friday

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 Illustration by Ansley Lewis

Illustration by Ansley Lewis

Almost 100 local, regional and global vendors featured at 25th annual Mercado de Paz.

Pam Paz


Black Friday, which kicks off the holiday shopping season, allows retailers to offer rock-bottom prices to consumers. The popularity of the day often draws throngs of people to stores as early as 2 a.m.

Not everyone shares the same zest for this version of holiday shopping, but what alternatives are there?

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center will host its 25th annual Mercado de Paz, or Peace Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 28-29 at 922 San Pedro Ave. This event is free and open to the public.

“As an alternative to crowded malls filled with crazed consumers and mass-produced goods, the Esperanza Peace Market features unique, handmade gifts and artesania centered around themes of peace, social justice, cultural diversity, and ecological concerns,” the center’s website says. Artesania is the Spanish word for craft.

The market fills two floors of the center, meanders into the patio and extends along West Evergreen Street.

Program coordinator Itza Carbajal said the event is about linking global and local communities and connecting consumers to the artists, craftspeople and artisans.

“This is what makes it authentic,” she said.

Carbajal said merchandise includes jewelry, paintings, ceramics, textiles, candles and other handmade pieces with styles ranging from traditional to modern.

She said the center does not highlight certain artisans but instead offers a variety of goods to choose from.

“There’s no majority presence,” Carbajal said.

Carbajal said the center reviewed more than 100 applications from local and regional vendors. The center has an outreach to international vendors around the world, including Colombia, Kenya and Uganda. These vendors must also go through the application process, she said.

This year, the center has almost 100 confirmed vendors from local, regional and global markets.

All vendors must be committed to the community and have a connection to social justice issues and cultural concerns, Carbajal said.

In addition to handmade goods, the market will feature live music from Las Tesoros and Azul Barientos, among other bands.

“We like having musicians who sing about social justice issues,” Carbajal said.

The market will also include readings and theater performances.

Carbajal said food donations will be sold as well.

For information, call 210-228-0201.


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