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November 21, 2015

New Christmas market at City Hall opens

Locally made goods are the theme

Holiday Craft
Dilworth Park Christmas KEVIN C. SHELLY//PhillyVoice

Samantha Slade, brand manager for Tradestone Confections, a venture by two brand-name Philly chefs, sells a box of truffles to Kathleen Freund, in Philadelphia to run the marathon on Sunday. Freund liked that all the goods at Dilworth Park are locally-made.

Kathleen Freund came all the way from Florida to eat local in Philadelphia – and she didn’t even have a soft pretzel.

In town with a local friend and supporter, Freund, 32, fueled up for Sunday’s Philadelphia Marathon by hitting up the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market that opened Saturday morning at Dilworth Park.

The new market, with an emphasis on the locally made, serves as a complement to the nearby Christmas Village at LOVE Park, a block away.

LOVE Park, which offers a more eclectic mix of goods, has been filled to capacity with vendors for years, so the space in front of City Hall offered a new retail opportunity.

One that Tradestone Confections brand manager Samantha Slade jumped at.

“We were at the Kimmel last year at Christmas and we were selling hand-over fist, so I knew we wanted to be in Center City again,” said Slade. “These sort of events are our biggest marketing.”

The company is a collaboration of chefs Chip Roman, best-known for Blackfish restaurant, and Fred Ortega, a noted pastry chef with a sweet tooth for chocolate and confections. Tradesmen is based in Conshohocken.

Toffee almond bark – a definite wow – and salted caramels, all crafted by hand, are the big sellers, with most prices between $10 and $30, though there is a gigantic box available for $52.

It was love at first bite for Fruend, who went for an assortment of truffles after a small sample.

“It’s cool to do local,” she said of the market, which opened Saturday and is open right up to 5 p.m. Christmas Eve.

“There is some pretty neat stuff. With local, you get different,” she said.

One of the different purveyors is Laure Kennedy of Manayunk, whose grandfather’s tools and basement tinkering inspired her to become a woodworker.

She started with refinishing and has made furniture and now crafts for the past 25 years, after study at Moore College of Art and also in Boston.

Her cutting boards, a blend of black walnut, cherry and maple, go for $40 to $60, while the mosaic-like “brick” cutting boards – the end grains of wood, so as not to dull fine knives – sell for $120 and take a day’s worth of work to assemble.

While she is selling on Etsy, this is her first venture into retail with woodworking crafts. 

She loves the LOVE Park Christmas Village and hopes the location at Dilworth Park helps her build a new client base.

Additional vendors with a local connection, including two book publishers, fill out the new gift village.