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Bratz Biz makes its return in new venue

Thirty-four youth vendors will sell their wares outside of SLCC on Nov. 27 and 28 
After being cancelled at the 11th hour last year, Whistler’s popular Bratz Biz market returns this weekend to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, where 34 young vendors will sell their wares on Nov. 27 and 28.

After being cancelled at the 11th hour amidst shifting COVID-19 regulations last year, Bratz Biz, Whistler’s beloved annual market showcasing youth artisan vendors, is set to return—and in a new location to boot. 

“We’re super, super excited to have an in-person market this year,” says event co-organizer Lee Erickson. 

Thirty-four young entrepreneurs will be selling their wares in the parking lot outside of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) this weekend, a new venue for the market that had in recent years been held at the Whistler Conference Centre. 

“We were scheduled to go at the SLCC last year and then this year we decided we were much better to go outdoors [rather] than face the ever-changing indoor rules, so we’re outdoors at the SLCC. So bundle up,” Erickson recommends. 

It isn’t the only change this year: although independently run events, Bratz Biz in recent years ran alongside Arts Whistler’s popular Holiday Market (formerly Bizarre Bazaar), but with the organization unable to cement a space to rent, the adult market won’t go ahead this year. 

“We’re saddened they can’t operate this year because having the markets together is good for both markets,” Erickson says. 

Being entirely volunteer run, Bratz Biz is funded primarily through sponsorship and fundraising, and in years when it ran in conjunction with Arts Whistler’s Holiday Market, organizers were able to share crucial costs and work. 

“They cover a lot of advertising and a lot of that. Also, we share work. They figure out how to get the signage and whatnot up, and there are lots of applications and lots of stuff that Arts Whistler would do that covers both markets,” Erickson explains. “So there is increased workload and increased financial burden on Bratz Biz when we aren’t with the Arts Whistler Holiday Market.” 

Among the dozens of young vendors this year will be Olivia Dallago’s Chocolate Desire, which sells chocolate truffles; sisters Lydia and Stella Schwartz’s Whistler Nut Butter Co., and Jordan Lovell’s Live 2 Ski, which upcycles old skis and snowboards into new items, such as birdhouses, wine racks and benches. 

A five-year veteran of Bratz Biz, the 16-year-old Lovell says he has appreciated the opportunity to hone his salesmanship and grow his business from the ground up.  

“I love to make my own stuff. It helps you become more confident talking to people. It just feels good to create and also the sales training, I use that in my job today,” he says. Lovell works at The Destination ski shop in North Van, where he has also begun selling his birdhouses, with hopes to expand into more stores in the future. 

“It’s a lot for some kids to put themselves out there at all so the social experience they get from doing something like that is incredible,” said Erickson. 

“We need people to come out and support these kids that have worked so hard for a long period of time. Come out, support local and start your holiday shopping early.” 

Bratz Biz is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 27 and Sunday, Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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