Discover the Goth and Alternative Market bringing unique delights to Bristol – and how you can get involved.

Gothic gifts, creative keepsakes, artwork, intriguing oddities and even a clothing exchange – all are features of the Bristol Goth and Alternative Market, returning to the city for a second edition on Saturday 7 March (12-5pm). Head to The Station – a former Fire Station on Silver Street – and browse a bustling range of stalls selling all things alternative, curious, dark and delightful, both new and second-hand.

From art pieces and music merchandise to witchy wares and even coffin shelf makers, this is a goth market with plenty of variety and the opportunity to connect with others interested in the underground scene. It was first set up by Amy Ruth, a Bristol-based creative passionate about alternative culture and bringing the community together. The idea started out as a Gothic jumble sale – as Amy is a keen advocate for shopping second-hand – evolving to include independent traders in a market format.

After months of careful planning, Amy successfully launched the first Bristol Goth and Alternative Market back in November 2019, taking place at the Exchange in Old Market and featuring 12 stalls. This included the likes of Dead Space Chamber Music, comic-inspired artwork and even painted bones from Geist, handcrafted metalwork from the local J Bull Blacksmith, art from Florian Hynam and so much more.

The event proved so popular, with shoppers arriving throughout the day, that Amy found herself considering a second market event, and an even bigger venue – The Station. The enhanced space also means that even more features can be added and the market has doubled in size to feature 24 stalls. With the upcoming March event set to include a combination of returning and new traders, as well as a Gothic Writing Workshop and even a Clothing Exchange, it is perhaps little wonder that many are already intrigued.

How does a Clothing Exchange work? This exciting concept is the result of the Goth and Alternative Market partnering up with Banana Custard Costuming – meaning that people can bring their own clothing, swap it for tokens and use those tokens to get something else from the exchange. A social as well as environmentally-friendly way of getting new-to-you clothing, this feature of the market is set to be popular.

Amy Ruth, founder of the Goth and Alternative Market

Image - Amy Ruth, credit Gabriel Perez Artoz

Haunt Bristol’s Emily Oldfield spoke to the inspiring Amy Ruth herself to find out more:

Hello Amy! What was the inspiration behind Bristol Goth and Alternative Market?

“Hi! It was a whole mix of things, initially stemming from the fact I had amassed so much over the years and justified keeping it by saying ‘I'll get round to selling it one day’. I knew that my stuff probably wasn't going to sell at a traditional jumble sale, and I wasn't having much luck online. After speaking to my wonderfully supportive family and friends, I decided to look into hosting an event. I am also a strong believer in shopping second hand and from independent businesses, and the idea started to go from a Goth and alternative jumble sale to a market. Bristol has a great Goth and Alternative scene, so the idea of being able to contribute and create an afternoon where people can come support small businesses, shop second hand and meet others with similar interests was really compelling.”

Would you say that Bristol is particularly suited to Goth and Alternative themes? Why?

“I definitely think that it's well suited. Part of the reason I love being in the Goth and Alternative scene is that it is wonderfully diverse. There are so many stems into literature, culture, music, art, nightlife etc, and Bristol has a lot to offer.

“The city has such diversity in terms of the people who live here, and it caters for so much. As a teenager I had a job in a Gothic fashion shop, so through there I would find out about different club nights, gigs and events and even back then it amazed me how much was going on. In the last few years we've had events such as Dark Alchemy and The Bats Ball, which I think combined with all the club nights, gigs and diversity within the city will help Bristol on the map for Gothic and Alternative culture.”

Your choice of venue for the second market is The Station – why does this matter to you? 

“After the first market, it was very apparent that we needed to find a bigger space. The Station ticked all of the boxes for what I was looking for, and once I saw the space I thought it would be a great fit. Creative Youth Network who run The Station are a great local charity that offer creative courses, support and advice to young people, so I'm pleased to be doing the market with them and helping promote the wonderful work they do.”

The first event took place in November 2019 – how was this received and why have you decided to follow with a second? 

“Honestly I was absolutely blown away by the response. I made a Facebook event in the evening, and by the time I checked it the next day I'd had about 500+ people mark as ‘interested’, which was just crazy to me! From there it grew and grew. We opened the doors and there was a constant stream of shoppers right up until we closed.

“During the event people were asking me ‘when is the next one?’ and I hadn't really thought that far ahead! At the time, I wanted to get one event under my belt, evaluate it, then figure out the viability of a second one. After I'd had time to reflect on it and read the feedback, I felt confident enough to put on a second market. Even now I'm getting e-mails asking for tables at events later in the year, so I'd best get planning!”

How can people get involved? 

“There's actually a few ways people can be involved!

Market evolution: I’m really excited that it's only our second event, and already it's evolved to include a Clothes Exchange plus a Gothic Writing workshop! Both of these additions came from people e-mailing in wanting to be involved, and I'm so pleased they did. In the future I'd love to have additional workshops, talks, maybe a mini art exhibition, so if others would like to be involved in those that'd be great!

“You can email me on bristolgothmarket@hotmail.com with suggestions and ideas and also to book a space at future markets.

Volunteering: Volunteering on the day could be anything from helping people find certain stalls, helping take donations on the door, helping in the Clothes Exchange, making sure there's plenty of room for shoppers to move about, and checking our stall holders are okay. 

Visiting the market: It sounds weird to say, but by visiting the market, you're a part of it! You're coming and supporting small businesses, supporting the local Goth and Alternative community and supporting a local charity through your entry donation.”

You also run a separate Goth Crafts Group in Bristol – can you tell us a bit more about this?

“So, the idea for the Goth Crafts Group came last summer just before I started planning the market.

“I craft in my spare time, and I have friends who do print making, photography, illustration, zine makers, make accessories and jewellery to name a few. I thought it would be great for us to get together, share skills and learn. I find meeting new people at clubs and pubs quite daunting, so having a space outside of that to meet likeminded souls would be lovely.

“After talking to friends, they all agreed that having a monthly afternoon to meet and be creative would be good. I've been to a few craft groups previously, and always felt like a bit of an outsider. When others are drawing flowers and landscapes, I'm doing ghosts, skulls and cemeteries.

“Each month we aim to do something different. So far we've done sewing, a Halloween craft special and making wildlife snuggle pouches to help with the rehabilitation of animals at Secret World Wildlife Rescue, a charity we also raised £186.10 for at the first market. Our next session will look at print making, which I have no experience in doing so I've had to try to learn!

“I fund it myself and want to keep it as low cost and accessible for everyone. Over the years I've collected so much craft stuff, it's great to see it be used by others. We have a Facebook group that people can join too and find out more, it's Bristol Goth Crafts.”

Bristol Goth and Alternative Market

Bristol Goth and Alternative Market is also on Facebook – an ideal way to keep updated with traders set to feature at upcoming events and to find out more! The event page for the 7 March market is here.

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Haunt Bristol: Discover Bristol’s Goth and Alternative Market

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