A popup, holiday shopping event called Mistletoe Mercado took the ground floor at The People’s Building. Thirty local vendors sold merchandise to happy holiday shoppers. Bonfire Event Co. hosted the event. The event was alongside Santa’s Big Red Sack, a sketch comedy that is becoming a tradition in the Denver area.
Bonfire Event Co. is a company rooted in bringing communities together. Jay Kim founded Bonfire Event Co. in early May of 2021 with a focus on popup events.
“A lot of these vendors are people I have known for years.” Kim said. “The vendor community is tight-knit.”
The vendor tables at the popup were comprised of about 70% women-owned businesses and 60% immigrant-owned businesses with some overlap in these percentages. Kim said that the goal was to celebrate the diversity of North Aurora and used it as an opportunity to provide a wide selection of merchandise.
In addition to this cultural and gender diversity, a number of new businesses that sought to reach customers over the holiday season presented their wares at Mistletoe Mercado this year. Abuelita’s Tiendita opened business shortly after the pandemic, said Azul Rivera.
Her aunt, of whom her family warmly refers to with the sobriquet “Abuelita”, initially opened Abuelita’s Tiendita as a means to make some side money after her employment showed a decline in work hours. At first, they made face masks. Then, her and members of her family reached out to their relatives in Mexico for
aid in supplying their merchandise. They now supply a wide range of arts and crafts authentic of numerous regions in Mexico.
“I do this out of love for my people, as a chance to show their culture here and to make connections with people I meet here in Colorado,” said Azul.
Rachel Martinez, an abstract painter from Littleton, CO, exhibited her work at Mistletoe Mercado. She found out about Bonfire Event Co after exhibiting her paintings at numerous venues in 2021.
“It is very cute and super shoppable. I think they did such a great job.” Martinez said of Mistletoe Mercado. “I have plenty of people come up to me at these events. It’s priceless.”
Bonfire Event Co. Moving Forward and How It Serves the Community
Kim started Bonfire Event Co. to teach his children about entrepreneurship. Through popup events the company is able to bring more consumer eyes to these grassroot businesses. The challenge of a popup event is bringing a wide selection of merchandise to the customers it serves.
“A big part of our focus is in North Aurora.” Kim said. “North Aurora along the Colfax barrier has an incredible diversity. It does not need replicated. It is already here.”
In 2020 the city of Aurora created an Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in an attempt to further the opportunities of people living in this community. The use of offices like this could potentially enhance the business platforms of many people living in North Aurora by providing equal opportunities for different people of diverse backgrounds.
Kim is planning on a few events within the North Aurora community in the coming year. An Earth Day event in the month of April is under organization, a Diá de los Muertos celebration is also in the works and by working with Aurora’s Office of Immigration Affairs plans for an Aurora Global market are coming together.
“We try to weave a social initiative by helping out local businesses,” Kim said. “Specifically with people who arrived to this country recently. We want to help them get a foothold.” Kim is using these grassroots businesses not only to bring shopping events, but also cultural entertainments, such as dance performances, which was demonstrated at the Fall Festival Bonfire Event Co held at Fletcher Plaza this year.
Kim encourages people with ideas to fuel more cultural components to his events to reach out to him through the contact info section of his website.