Shop AF Pop-Up Spotlights Independent Brands

Plus food trucks, whiskey and craft beer tastings, and a live DJ

Cross a custom ax, olive oil Castile soap, a bespoke suit, or a rescue dog off your shopping list at Shop AF’s small-brand marketplace this weekend. If preteen-filled malls aren’t your style and you feel just a little twinge of guilt every time you add something to your Amazon cart, the weekendlong pop-up at Fair Market might be your shopping safe space.

Organized by “brand discovery marketplace” American Field, Shop AF brings its vendors to cities across the nation to spotlight independently run companies owned by passionate creators. Over 50 independent companies – 40% of which are local and unique to Austin – will set up shop in Fair Market, each fighting against the growing wallet of Jeff Besos one sale of a niche product at a time.

“With most purchases being made online or through big box retailers, the shopping experience has become sterile and uninspiring,” says Mark Bollman IV, President and Founder of American Field, in an email to the Chronicle. As Bollman sees it, supporting independent brands through offline markets like Shop AF versus large online corporations is necessary. “Voting with your dollar is the most effective way of creating change,” he explains. “By supporting emerging brands who are bringing unique and high quality products to the market, the overall bar of quality is raised and everyone wins.”

Along with the wide range of items for sale at Shop AF, there will be a live DJ, food vendors, and even craft beer and whiskey tastings. Plus, Final Frontier Rescue Project, an Austin nonprofit that rescues dogs from area shelters that were going to be euthanized, will hold adoptions at the event on Saturday. (Buying a rehabilitated dog requires a bit more commitment than an artisan hand bag, but good luck to all dog lovers trying not to take one home.)

For your chance to be reinspired by shopping and at finding the item you desperately need but previously didn’t know existed, entrance tickets cost $5. The pop-up is open from 11am-6pm on both Oct. 19 and 20, so you will have lots of time to debate if you really need all the things you will inevitably buy.

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