A Downtown Storefront for Rochester’s most creative ‘underground community’

Downtown Rochester shoppers have access to some of the most creative products in the community, thanks to a partnership between Threshold Arts and the Rochester Makers Market.

Threshold Arts opened the storefront at 311 Broadway Ave. South to the Rochester Makers Market last December. The shelves there are filled with one-of-a-kind works by artists, designers, and craftspeople like Amarama Art, CHOOCHOO-ca-CHEW, George Pottery, and Patricia Dunn-Walker. Shoppers can find everything from handmade brooms to eye-catching postcards, lushly scented candles to intricate felt sculptures.

“The local makers community feels like an endless underground community waiting to be discovered,” says Sean Archer, founder of the Rochester Makers Market. “It’s time we shed some light on it.”

In early 2020, Archer’s woodworking company, Knotty Woodpecker, had a studio residency at the Castle. COVID-19 restrictions closed the Castle to the public, just as other vending opportunities, like pop-ups and artist markets, dried up, too. That’s when Archer developed the Makers Market, an online bazaar that brought together the city’s makers together to develop their businesses and raise their profiles. He created a website and invited makers to list themselves and their wares. Today, the market is a collective of makers, craftspeople, designers, and artists.

In the meantime, Naura Anderson, founder of Threshold Arts, seized on an opportunity to open a location in the heart of downtown. She invited the Rochester Makers Market to collaborate soon after. This, in Archer’s view, provided a space for both vending and gathering. The store opened midway through the holiday season and got off to a strong start, thanks to word-of-mouth and community excitement.

“In the month of December, our first month of operation, we were able to put over $15,000 back into the hands of our member artists which is exactly what we are hoping to do with this space,” says Anderson.

Anderson’s organization is a nonprofit working to empower artists and contribute to a more vibrant and inclusive arts community in Rochester. It was able to lease the downtown space, in part, thanks to the support of the Downtown Small Business Relief Fund. 75% of Threshold’s revenue goes back to its member artists. Communal support, Anderson stresses, will allow the space to continue.