Mei Dunlop shares her story of creating the Vancouver Island Market Ltd (VIM)
Vancouver Island Market Ltd (VIM) was born out of the need to house creative talent on Vancouver Island (VI) and surround islands under one roof.
After attending several larger markets on VI as a shopper and being a vendor at markets on VI as a maker, she found our makers on VI lacking the proper representation and marketing needed to fulfill their dreams and passion.
As a creative professional and entrepreneur for nearly a decade with online sales that have kept her self-employed full time, she wanted to convert her energy from selling internationally back to supporting the local economy because she agrees with Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) that we should be a progressive voice for the vitality of the Island’s economy. Some of us know this as the shop local movement but VIM is shifting the movement one step further to support Vancouver Island creative businesses movement.
Sears Canada at Nanaimo North Town Centre has just closed its doors in April of 2018 and she thought it would be the best opportunity for the VIM team to utilize the space while it’s vacant and up-cycle this 65,000 square feet building into a large creative craft market.
How cool is it when it’s usually the big corporations that replace small business locations but we at Vancouver Island Market, as a brand new entity with just a handful of young entrepreneurs who love the island life decided to take on this big building and challenge the status quo!
VIM was the largest market on Vancouver Island with over 200 vendors participating in the past winter market and over 35,000 visitors come through the doors during their first 3 day event.
Mei’s got big dreams; she wants to inspire change and help grow a creative economy like no other. When people come to our market, they feel welcomed and wow’d by the talent they see. It’s not just a regular craft market because we promote all talent on Vancouver Island including local businesses that are hidden gems and work with Tourism Nanaimo and Tourism Vancouver Island to help realize this vision.
Our market attracts shoppers and vendors from all over Vancouver Island, surrounding islands and even creatives on the mainland. We have the potential to impact and bring in over half a million dollars per year back into the island’s economy and keep island-folks living a sustainable life-style, giving them the freedom to work from home and spend more time with their families. Community over Competition; we rise by lifting other small Vancouver Island businesses.
We are a unique market that hires young creative professionals who want to live, work and play here. We want our younger generation to succeed and find meaningful and creative work on Vancouver Island and I believe this can happen if we do our part in supporting each other and sharing the drive to buy local, support local and promote local creatives here.