In the past couple of years, pop-ups around town have become popular. I am not the type of friend who you call to go shopping with. But I particularly love the camaraderie of going to a pop-up to purchase unique gifts directly from the creators who are also members of our community. As I have gotten older, purchasing gifts has become a bit of an agony because I tend to overthink things in my quest to find rare items, leading to indecisiveness and second-guessing myself. At this point, I no longer have this issue because of all the brilliant makers I have access to at these events.
I have met many talented artisans in the past year, particularly thanks to Melissa Hay, who has been curating the San Pedro Today-sponsored pop-ups. On the surface, it all might seem seamless and easy, but putting together pop-ups is laborious. It requires securing an ideal location, strategically coordinating a variety of makers and bakers with products that don’t compete with each other, and spending an infinite amount of time marketing the events. Lastly, what Hay does particularly well is creating an inviting atmosphere that includes balloon decorations and live music for a truly enjoyable shopping experience.
Last year, I wrote about how A Bite of Good’s small batch hand-crafted spices make great gifts. Owner Laurel Martin, a veteran at Hay’s events, regularly adds new blends to her repertoire. Martin is a creative genius who is always working on new and unique products to add to her shop. Last year she ventured into creating cocktail kits and hot chocolate mixes that are great to have on hand year-round. The cocktail kits are mason jars filled with various dried goods that only require the purchaser to add their chosen spirit. I find these to be great gifts for friends who enjoy craft cocktails. Speaking of cocktail lovers, Martin also offers personalized gift baskets. Last year, I raved about her far-superior-than-store-bought hot cocoa mixes. There are more varieties this year, and I highly recommend stocking up for yourself and gifting purposes. Additionally, she recently added cookie mixes in a jar. The varieties include regular and fancier options such as macaroons and gingerbread.
Natalie D’Aquanno Williams, also known as Good Vibes Italian Desserts, has been another staple at Hay’s pop-ups. Her Italian-style baked goods have rightfully garnered her a loyal following in town. I particularly love her assorted boxed cookies, which make fantastic gifts. D’Aquanno Williams will also have her mini coffee cakes and pizzelle, which are waffle cookies. For the holidays, she also accepts orders for cream puffs and mini cannolis. On the day of the event, don’t miss out on her made-to-order right-off-the-fryer sfingi, which are ricotta-filled fried dough balls.
Zelda Gutierrez, the creative force behind La Befana Bakery, is a bit of a newcomer. Gutierrez is an accomplished self-taught baker. It’s impossible not to be impressed by her cookie-decorating talents. Her attention to detail carries over to her packaging, making her baked goods ideal for gift-giving. For the holidays, she will have a variety of decorated festive cookies, biscotti, and ricciarelli, which are Italian almond cookies. She will also have cookie decorating and hot cocoa topper kits with homemade marshmallows and holiday designs.
Gutierrez will also have what I foresee to be a popular option. She will have an edible ink printer allowing pictures to be printed onto cookies on-site. On the day of the pop-up, she will have a holiday backdrop to take pictures in front of to immediately transfer onto sugar cookies. These can be purchased in singles or multiples.
The San Pedro Today-sponsored pop-up hosted by Melissa Hay will take place on December 10 and 11 in front of The Corner Store (1118 W. 37th St.). spt