Elise Reichl was standing outside Centennial Hall for the same reason dozens of others were queued outside the downtown events venue — it was time to do some Christmas shopping.
Juneau Public Market opened Friday, and before folks were allowed to start perusing vendors’ wares, a line snaked from Centennial Hall’s entrance and out into the brisk Juneau air.
“I’ll probably get some Christmas presents and stocking stuffers,” Reichl said. “Fun, local, edible items to ship to relatives down south, too.”
Reichl, who was joined by children, 13-year-old Ethan and 16-year-old Emma, said she did not brave the early morning crowd at Fred Meyer. Juneau Public Market was her first black Friday shopping stop of the day.
“I’d rather sleep in,” she said.
Some of those shopping Friday were out-of-town relatives who made their way to Juneau to shop for themselves. They said they combine a holiday visit with a chance to see what vendors are selling.
“We come from Oregon, and we come to this every year we come,” Jennifer Chisholm said.
The 37th annual public market featured more than 200 vendors at three venues — Centennial Hall, Juneau Arts & Culture Center and Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall —and offered no shortage of goods unique to the region and state.
There were two Public Market tables that seemed to generate more noise than any of the others in the bustling venues.
One was a present wrapping station in the JACC that was ran by Girl Scouts from troops 4007 and 4077. Isabel Danner, 12, had a persistent case of the giggles while working on presents, which spread to her fellow wrappers.
The Centennial Hall room that featured Juneau Raptor Center and the American Bald Eagle Foundation of Haines also generated excitement.
Hans, a Eurasian eagle owl from Haines, and his striking orange eyes was a hit with young attendees.
“My favorite animals are owls, so they’re cool to me,” said Solstice Smallwood Stevens.
Some of the goods for sale included jams made from berries in Sitka, ornaments decorated by local artists, wood work made by Thunder Mountain High School students and an eclectic selection of fur goods.
At Fritze’s Furs’ booth, Annie and Todd Fritze offered a typical selection of garments, including hats, gloves and ear muffs, but they also had some odder items, like beer cozies, coasters and Teddy bears made of seal, otter and lynx fur.
“Everything here is harvested by Todd except for the seal or the sea otter,” said Annie Fritze, who sews the items.
The Fritzes said the toy animals are a good use for swatches of fur that may be too small to use for a garment.
The cozies are a relatively new endeavor, Todd Fritze said, but they’d proved popular in Dillingham, where the couple reside, so they decided to bring them to Juneau Public Market. They’ve participated in the market for eight years.
“We keep coming back because Juneau’s the perfect place for our sustainable furs,” Annie Fritze said.
While some of the products are newer ideas, Annie Fritze also had items based on patterns from her late aunt. Annie Fritze, who is Yup’ik, said her aunt was one of the people who taught her to sew fur.
“I grew up with it, but the people who really taught me to sew were my late grandmother and my late aunt,” she said.
While the Fritzes have a long record of Juneau Public Market attendance, Renee Pierce, owner of the Sitka-based Simple Pleasures of Alaska, has them beat.
Pierce said this year marked the 20th year she’s had a Public Market presence. She said she keeps coming back because of the connections she’s made over the years.
“It’s really the people,” Pierce said. “They’ve seen my daughters grow up. It’s like a family.”