KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Merry Market is back at City Market.

The spirit of the season bellowed through City Market on a pleasant Black Friday afternoon as Robert strummed Christmas music on his banjo.

But temperatures weren’t the only thing above average. So are inflation and the costs to make many of the products for the market’s more than 100 vendors. That includes Lee’s Summit-based Embers Candle Bar, which allows customers to make their own candles.

“It’s definitely been a struggle, for sure. We’re probably running at lower margins than we usually do just to make sure we find that fine line,” owner Shara Derks said.

“Obviously we’ve got to pay for things. We’ve got to make some money. But we also have to make sure our customers that shop small don’t feel like they are being gouged.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also has brought more competition among crafters. Stay-at-home orders and lifestyles led to new hobbies and side gigs.

“Through the pandemic me and two other friends, we’re architects full time and we just love designing. We fell into our creative outlet outside of our normal jobs,” CoLAB Design owner Owen Cobb said.

Customers with budgets of their own to consider seemed to be gobbling up Kansas City-themed ornaments and other gear.

“We love everything about the city, so its fun that we can support local and get really neat crafts and gifts out of it,” Bridget Cavuoti said.

“That’s my favorite part of being here in Midwest and Kansas City in particular. People here really want to support their local makers and local people,” Derks said.

On a day made for big box stores, it’s clear pop-up tents, mobile boutiques and even a musician with his Santa Hat and banjo can make enough to feel optimistic inflation won’t cut too much into Small Business Saturday.

Merry Market at City Market will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through the final weekend before Christmas.

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