David Botwick-Ries stands at the front desk and greets visitors to Homestead’s co-working space with a wide smile.
Behind him, a community merchandise board is filled with a variety of products by eight local businesses, available for sale. A month and a half ago, it was a bare wall.
“This board was something I wanted to bring to Homestead to showcase the local maker, artist, design community here in Edmonton,” says David, who joined Homestead as a community manager in March, focusing on outreach and strategy. One of his first steps was to reach out to Edmonton businesses like Smithstine Jewelry and 35ltd offering them a place to showcase and sell their products.
“To give an outlet to these companies that are either very established or just starting up and give them an opportunity in a prime downtown location without charging them anything.” Homestead opened in 2015 on 109 Street by founders Tegan Martin-Drysdale and Brandon Webber. Last August, it moved to the second floor of the historical Alberta Block building on Jasper Avenue at 105 Street where it now offers more than 4,600 square feet of bright, open space, and is home to 26 local businesses.
A focus on community development is central to Homestead’s vision – and appropriate given its location in the Alberta Block. The building has long been home to entrepreneurs and innovators, but its best known – and longest-running – tenant was CKUA Radio, a key voice in the Edmonton community.
In addition to the merchandise board, Homestead also hosts Think Tank Thursdays, a bi-weekly member-only field trip to other local businesses, as well as the Homestand, a pop-up market series held twice a month on Fridays, which allows vendors to set up in the common area and showcase their products for sale. David points out the stunning photographs lining the long hallway that are from previous Homestand participant, J² Studios.
“Something always comes out of it: a connection, a possible referral, or business development. There’s always something unique,” David says, adding that the focus of the Homestand events is to create individual connections between local makers and Edmonton’s community of entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Jacqueline Cardinal, co-founder of indigenous digital marketing agency Naheyawin, which is based at Homestead, participates in as many events as she can.
“I love taking part in the Think Tank Thursdays and the Homestand events so that I can learn more about the cool things people are making in our city, and of course make new friends in our ever-growing Homestead community.”
The next Homestand pop-up features clothing retailer Flannel Foxes, and is scheduled for Friday, July 7, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local vendors interested in participating in Homestand or the community merchandise board can contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org.