October 18, 2021

Witnessing a lineup of people waiting to take their turn shopping isn’t an uncommon sight these days – usually, it’s for something more mundane, like groceries. But on Sept., 26 in uptown Waterloo, a lineup decorated King St. N., for an event: Luster & Oak’s Night Market.

Luster & Oak, originally known as Unit 5 before rebranding in 2010, is a vintage consignment boutique on King St. in Waterloo. Proximity to Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Waterloo has resulted in many of their customers being students.

With a goal to bring together vintage vendors and lovers, the store decided to begin hosting a Night Market; guests could pay a $2 fee at a venue to shop Luster & Oak and other sellers. The first two markets were in 2018, followed by another in 2019, and the most recent on Sunday, Sept., 26, from 6 p.m. until “late.”

“It was so great to see the community come together and just have a great time,” said Fatima Palacios, a sales associate for Luster & Oak who worked the event this year. “I have such a passion for fashion and to be surrounded by so many with the same interests was just unforgettable.”

Palacios and her co-worker, Claire Servos, sitting at the Luster & Oak booth. Photo by Sahil Markhan/ @smark.shot on Instagram.

In the past, the Night Market was indoors at smaller locations, like the Starlight Social Club and Button Factory. But this year’s Night Market was the biggest one yet – with 23 vendors, the market took place outdoors at a lot on 56 King St. N.

The lot backed onto Prohibition Warehouse, the co-host of the event, to supply food and drink to any thrifters hungry for more than just new clothes.

Left, a digital poster advertising this year’s market. Right, a digital map of the market this year. Photos submitted by Luster & Oak.

The large number of vendors weren’t the only thing contributing to the success of this year’s market; close to 2,000 guests attended. Masks were mandatory when shopping, but with pandemic procedures and the amount of attendees, the wait time to get in the market was high.

“Most waited anywhere between half an hour to two hours,” Palacios said.

A crowd of shoppers lined up outside of the Night Market. Photo by Sahil Markhan/@smark.shot on Instagram.

Shelby Randal, a Conestoga College Bachelor of Design student, can attest to that.

“I saw the line nearly wrapping around three block corners,” he said. “I waited about an hour, but it was worth it. It exposed me to so many more new shops.”

Sweet Thing Vintage, a 90s model off-duty inspired fashion shop owned by Brigitte Willis, was one of the vendors attending the market. Willis had previously worked as a buyer for Luster & Oak for seven years, and is currently dating Ricky Nelson, who runs Luster & Oak.

Willis was grateful to meet her “lovely customers,” noting that you could feel the excitement in the air after everyone being able to attend in-person events.

“One girl told me she drove from London to shop my booth,” she said. “It truly made my night.”

Brigitte Willis (left) standing by her booth, and Ricky Nelson posing at the market (right). Photo by Sahil Markhan/@smark.shot on Instagram.

Luster & Oak also asked Lauren Domonchuk, the owner of Nice Try in Cambridge, to be a vendor for a second time after her first vendor appearance in 2019.

“It was nice to see more female-owned businesses there versus last time,” Domonchuk said. “I also was totally blown away at how long the lineup was, for basically the entire night. Sales were amazing.”

Domonchuk and her boyfriend posing at her vendor booth. Photo by Sahil Markhan/@smark.shot on Instagram.

With this year’s Night Market bursting at the brim, Luster & Oak expressed their gratitude, and Palacios teased at what is next for the store.

“We have so much planned to come for both Luster & Oak, as well as the Night Market,” she said. “We really can’t wait to make our dreams and goals come to life!”

For more photos of the market, head to photographer Sahil Markhan’s Instagram, or view them here.

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