Third + Bird smashes attendance records with 9th annual Christmas market

Third + Bird co-founder Charla Smeall says more than 12,000 shoppers went through the Christmas market in the basement of the Bay downtown over three days.

Local craft market saw more than 12,000 people pass through basement of the Bay downtown

Third + Bird shoppers sample local honey made by Beeproject Apiaries. (beeprojectca/Instagram)

Winnipeggers love shopping local — that's the takeaway from the Third + Bird market, co-founder Charla Smeall says.

The ninth annual Christmas market saw record attendance this year, with more than 12,000 people visiting the Bay basement over three days.

"To say we're overwhelmed is an understatement," she said. "I mean, we prepared for big numbers, but this has been on another level."

Organizers prepared for 8,000 to 10,000 shoppers by widening aisles and booths to accommodate large crowds.

Third + Bird co-founders Chandra Kremski (right) and Charla Smeall have taken their urban market to the Bay after nine years in business. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)
The crowds did cause issues, with ATM and debit machines going down on Saturday, the market's busiest day.

"[When] you get 2,000 to 3,000 phones in here, all looking for a signal, it's scrambling lines," Smeall said.

Next year, they will plan ahead and look into getting a wireless hot spot to ensure shoppers can make cashless purchases, she said.

Overall, she said, the market was a success, with a quarter of its vendors being new to the event. 

"It's just a really unique gift idea, and to say that is from Winnipeg and that money stays in our economy and our own backyard is really important to them," she said.