Photo by Sophia Ling.

Pop-up Market Embraces Queer Identities and Independent Artists

Three years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, its effects on the arts community and around the world are well documented. While many organizations stopped operating, Alice Serres, the founder of Community Market Atlanta (@communitymarketatlanta), used the opportunity to transition and build a pop-up market that celebrates queer joy and independent artists and allows people to form lasting bonds.

The market pops up twice a month from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., alternating between two locations: CreateATL and Hodgepodge Coffee, where the next event will be on March 4. For Serres, choosing locations depended heavily on having an accessible space that anyone could easily attend. Parking outside is free and the open-air tent setup allows people to wander in and out of the venue.

At the last Community Market, more than 78 vendors were in attendance.

One of the vendors, Rob Chamberlin, sells his porcelain work at the market and has been coming every month for almost a year. His porcelain is decorated with finely piped ceramic, inspired by excessive decoration and the aristocracy.

“[Community Market Atlanta] helped me in this transitional moment where the labor I do can actually support me,” said Chamberlin.

He’s working on an online store at the moment while teaching on the side and trying to make his ceramics his “main gig.”

A doula turned bioregional herbalist, Chelsea Wall started her one-woman business, Black South Apothecary, after doulas were being removed from hospitals during the pandemic.

“I was at a loss of how to support my community when this space [for doulas] was being taken away from us,” Wall said.

Inspired to reach and impact her community, Wall prioritizes accessible pricing and reliability in all her products. Everything from foraging, to harvesting, to drying and growing herbs is done by Wall herself. The in-home business allows her to add that personal touch to every product she releases. Her most favored products are the elderberry syrups, but she also makes a line of full-spectrum CBD products.

“I want my products to help people reconnect with themselves and reconnect with the earth,” Wall said. “Everybody has a contribution to make in dreaming the world we want to see into being. I want to manifest the world I want to live and participate in.”

Wall’s products are sold not only at Community Market Atlanta, but also through Motherlode, a vintage shop in Decatur, and online on her website,

A regular at the market, Wall claims it is her favorite market due to its well-curated, friendly and welcoming environment.

“[The Community Market Atlanta] brings out a lovely selection of people and vendors,” Wall said.

Her sentiments about Community Market’s infectious energy are shared by many of the regular vendors, even first-timers like Kate Manoucheka, half of the sister duo Sincerely Fearless (@sincerelyfearless), a unique jewelry shop. She and her sister, Marnelle Airey, founded Sincerely Fearless in 2011 as a nod toward their late mother and parents’ love for fashion.

On display at the market were numerous interactive pieces from Sincerely Fearless, including bubble wands with actual bubble-making solution, Rubik’s cubes that can be solved, cameras that make a realistic shutter sound, and even tape measures that can be extended up to three feet long.

“A lot of people tell me they’re afraid to wear these pieces,” Kate said. “But I tell them to just wear it. No one will stop you.”

Their shop shows up around Atlanta on the weekends, but throughout the week they will often set up in colleges like Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University, and Spelman College.

Tyren Duncan and his business partner, Muhammad Khaerisman, have been selling vintage clothes for the last two years. After moving from Houston six months ago, this will be Duncan and Khaerisman’s fourth appearance at the Community Market. Their partnership, like that of many other vendors at the market, started in the wake of the pandemic. From first creating YouTube videos on their talk show, Faces Network, to share the importance of visual art in the world, to now sourcing and curating vintage clothing, Duncan hopes to share their light and artistry with the world.

“I want to put out really great art that questions the human condition that questions who we are, what we have to offer, and to be okay with that,” Duncan said.

Whether it be from the ’70s, ’80s or Y2K, Duncan wants the pieces to bring back part of childhood, a Pink Floyd show with your ex in high school, or seeing Selena Gomez on stage for the first time. The collection they most recently released focused on youth.

“I think we sell, more than anything, nostalgia,” Duncan said.

Through the Community Market, Duncan says he feels hopeful that customers and vendors who come through can band together, appreciate each other and create a truly safe space.

Like all these vendors, Serres is in artist in their own right. They transitioned from working as a textile designer for 10 years before losing their job to the pandemic. But despite being a dramatic experience, Serres attributes the job loss to the start of Community Market Atlanta.

“[Losing my job] got me into this, and I think that’s pretty beautiful,” they said.

Ultimately, the message taken from vendors seems to align with Serres’ mission. For them, the Community Market is a great way to see what the community around you is doing. Sometimes we get too nervous and too self-conscious to show it, Serres said, but artists like them are able to come show it off without judgment.

“It’s not necessarily about profit,” Serres said, “But about creating a space where we feel comfortable to share our art and ourselves.”

Seeing the Community Market as a queer space is equally important for them.

“It’s a bunch of really sweet, vulnerable, talented beings that want to share their passions of life and doing it in a way that’s like really sweet,” said Serres. In their interview, they noted that coming out late in life meant they struggled with making friends. As a result, the community they’ve built through Community Market Atlanta has become an important vessel to get to know queer people around Atlanta.

When I asked Serres what their big dream was, they paused for a moment before saying, “I think this is it.”

“I facilitate this,” they said, “but everyone else makes it what it is. We’re all just puzzle pieces, creating a beautiful puzzle together.”

To learn more about Community Market Atlanta, follow them on Instagram @communitymarketatlanta.