June 24, 2008
Sticky Bottom Market in Hatteras village features handmade and homegrown items
By AMBERLY DYER
heard all of the slogans. “Think globally, act
locally.” “Slow Food.” “Deep
Economy.” “Creative Frugality.”
“Shop Main Street.” They may have not struck a
note with you, but what if you could find handmade art and crafts or
homemade preserves or homegrown vegetables and plants, all on Hatteras
Island? What if buying items at this market meant that you could
visit and support island residents while deepening a sense of community?
Sticky Bottom Handmade Homegrown Market in Hatteras offers this and
much more to visitors and residents, every Wednesday from 4 until 8
p.m. in Hatteras village.
Resurrected from the Sticky Bottom Arts and Crafts Show of the late
1970s by JoEllen Willis and Belinda Willis (they are sisters-in-law by
marriage), the market promotes creative living, be it through
handcrafts, cooking, or gardening.
“It’s a venue for people who make and grow things to supplement their income,” explains JoEllen.
“With so many talented people on Hatteras, we felt we lacked an
outlet for anyone to have an opportunity to share their talent in the
arts or whatever media they had to promote themselves,” says
Both Belinda and JoEllen have creative backgrounds, so seeing the creative spark in others is not difficult.
grew up in an artist household, and art has always been part of my
life. My parents owned an art gallery, so we, as kids, spent many
hours working in the shop,” Belinda says.
JoEllen previously worked as a photographer for Shooters on the
Beach. But she is not selling pictures at the market. Her
current medium is beaded jewelry.
“My daughter and I started making earrings, but then she went
away to school,” said JoEllen. “I was left with a
surplus of beading supplies. A friend suggested, ‘Why
don’t you set up a lemonade stand and instead sell
It sparked a thought. JoEllen knows many residents creating
handcrafts and art without sufficient inventory to supply a gallery or
store regularly, but would enjoy selling their products.
She also liked the idea of a farmer’s market where people sell
their surplus produce.
She approached her sister-in-law about the idea. Belinda had been
mulling through the same idea, but did not have the time to commit to a
project with the summer season approaching. Belinda agreed to let
the market use the open space across from the Lee Robinson General
Store, which she and her husband, Virgil, own in Hatteras. Shaded
by a grove of oak trees and close enough to enjoy the first rays of an
evening sunset, the spot seemed perfect for an open-air
The two also reminisced about the “old” Sticky Bottom Arts
and Craft Show they participated in during the late 1970s.
“Sticky Bottom” is the name for the
lower part of Hatteras village that islanders have used for
years. Even though there are marshes and wetlands throughout the
village, there are more low marshy places in the lower village. JoEllen
says her mother-in-law told her that the residents would run from one
high-spot to the other, trying not to get stuck in the “sticky
Belinda contacted Vanessa Trant of Hatteras, who designed the original
Sticky Bottom logo in the ‘70s, to see if the name and logo could
be revived. Trant agreed and the project was off.
There are few ground rules for the market. There is a $10 fee for
space, but the main rule is that the vendors are Hatteras Island
residents, making it the local market they envisioned.
- “I want to keep it fluid,” says JoEllen. “We don’t want it to become super regulated.”
fluidity isn’t just about the market’s structure.
It’s about vendors and products as well. JoEllen points out that
garden produce varies throughout the season, and folks may have
commitments. This means that each week the market’s vendors
“It’s kind of wide open,” she explains.
“We want people to be entrepreneurial and creative.
We’ve had people sell everything from art to handcrafts to
homemade dog treats.”
She rattles off ideas of items she knows that island residents create
and produce: jewelry, art, cards, sauces, fig preserves, flavored oils
and vinegars, and baked goods. Even a shaved ice stand would draw
folks into the market, she believes.
The draw for vendors clearly is being able to spend little for a venue to sell a few items.
Carol Gaidos and her husband, Roberto, of Frisco, clearly saw the
opportunity. “Everyone always tells him that his barbecue sauce
is so good that he should sell it. So we thought we would try it
[the market],” Carol says. “He’s behind the
scenes. I’m the social one.”
Conversation between vendors and customers is a key part of any
market. People enjoy getting to know the person behind the
product. Knowing how and where food or art is produced,
especially something new, different or even nostalgic (like fig
preserves) is something people reflect on each time they open a jar,
pass a plant, or look at a piece of art.
“Tourists enjoy talking to residents and hearing their
stories. The market gives them a place to ask questions and for
people to share,” says JoEllen
The market isn’t just for tourists to visit. Locals stop
in, too. Even the vendors appreciate chatting with one another.
Jason Alitzer moved to Frisco in September, 2007, and is selling
distinctive surf-style decorated recycled bottles and shell
candleholders and piggy banks. “I’ve gotten to meet
lots of new people,” he says. He is also a link to the
past. “I’m Vanessa Trant’s cousin, so I’m
here keeping up the tradition.”
Blending tradition with new ideas and old recipes for community and
creativity, the market ties into larger movements about community
economic development and sustainability, an idea to which every
resident of Hatteras Island can relate .
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Sticky Bottom Handmade Homegrown Market is held every Wednesday
evening from 4 – 8 p.m. across from Lee Robinson General Store on
Highway 12 in the heart of Hatteras village. The market invites
crafters, artists, bakers, gardeners and entrepreneurs from all over
the island. There is no commitment required for a weekly presence, but
the $10 per site fee is due the day of the market. The fee is
used to off-set publicity costs for signage and flyers. A portion
of the funds will be donated to local charities at the end of the
summer. Vendors can contact JoEllen Willis at 986-2641 with
questions or ideas.