Budding entrepreneurs find home at NMU’s Wildcat Market
MARQUETTE – There’s plenty of items for sale inside the University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University – NMU clothing, books for class, backpacks, food and drink.
But on Fridays, students and area residents can get a taste of the creativity driving many of NMU’s students at the weekly Wildcat Market.
Students and registered student organizations can take over the atrium on the first floor of the UC, just outside the University Bookstore, selling all manner of handmade goods and items Fridays from noon to 4 p.m..
The market is sponsored by the Associated Students for Northern Michigan University and gives students a chance to flex their entrepreneurial muscles in a low-risk environment.
Cassandra Evers, an NMU graduate student, was taking her first foray into direct-to-consumer sales Friday, participating in her first ever Wildcat market.
“This was a great opportunity to get feedback, see if people like your product,” Evers said.
Evers, who had been employed at Bonanza until its recent closure, said she found herself with a little extra time on her hands and thought she’d try selling some of her baked goods.
“I do it for friends and family,” Evers said of her creative creations. “I thought, why not give it a shot?”
Evers’ products take typical baked items and turned them on their heads with realistic decorations.
She makes cupcakes that appear to be mashed potatoes, others that seem to be topped with peas and carrots. Her secret?
“Candy,” Evers said, using Starburst or other candies shaped to look like other types of food. “You’d be surprised what you can do with candy.”
Evers said she was using Friday’s opportunity to write down what customers were asking for – vegan options, being among the most popular.
One table over, senior photography major Ashley Welser was seated behind a table filled with handmade items – knitted scarves, hats, even lip balm holders.
“People love handmade items in general” Welser said.
Welser said she’s been a vendor at every Wildcat Market held since she’s been a student.
“I feel like it’s a good opportunity for students to come and check out what (other students are) working on in their spare time,” Welser said.
Selling her handmade items is old hat for Welser, who also has an Etsy page at www.etsy.cm/shop/teleologie. She said she likes to knit and make jewelry as a way to de-stress.
“All these things are what I like to do when I want to relax” Welser said. “My photography is what I do when I want to work.”
Also for sale at Welser’s table were Marquette decals designed by friend and fellow senior photography major Analicia Honkanen.
Students wishing to participate in further Wildcat Markets should contact ASNMU by emailing ASNMU@ nmu.edu or by calling 227-2452.
According to ASNMU’s website, the market is currently limited to 12 tables per week, with priority given to returning vendors.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.