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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Portobello Road South


Selling arts and crafts on a daily basis

You can find them at almost every festival in Shreveport-Bossier – arts and craft makers set up in a booth, selling everything from wooden bracelets to homemade jelly.

But Lisa Ezell – who has pretty much been making things all her life – doesn’t think you should have to wait for a festival to go shopping. That’s why she’s opening Portobello Road South, which will be at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier. Starting Aug. 1, and seven days a week, vendors will have a place to sell what they’ve got.

“It’s going to be an indoor marketplace for anyone who is local, to showcase what they do – what they make,” Ezell, Portobello’s manager, said. “People who would normally sell at the Farmers’ Market, they can sell their stuff all month. Instead of four times a month on a Saturday, they can bring their stuff in, set it up – for probably less money – and we will sell it for them.”

Space will rent for as low as $25 a month. “Every single person can afford less than a dollar a day to share what they have.”

This is Ezell’s first try at a business of this size, and she admits she’s “a bit nervous.” But Ezell does have experience.

“It was so successful,” Ezell said of the “business” she ran when she and her husband lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “I ran it out of my garage. It had 27 local vendors. Some were Filipinos and Jamaicans. It was the place to go because it was the only place you could find handmade stuff, unless you went to the craft fair, which was only four times a year. So, everybody who made stuff on the island brought it to my shop, and I sold it for them and gave them the money. People were thrilled.”

Ezell started making and selling friendship bracelets (for $3 each) when she was in high school and has been an entrepreneur ever since. Ezell and her husband have lived in several places – mostly out west – but no matter where Ezell called home, she’s always been “hands-on.”

“I know how many people craft. It’s like therapy for us. We always have all these things we’ve worked on, but we don’t always have a way to share it with other people – other than giving it away as a gift. Sometimes you give it away as a gift, and somebody says, ‘Hey! I would like one of those, too!’”

And in Ezell’s voice, you can hear her appreciation for those who practice their craft.

“When you buy something handmade or handcrafted, you’re getting a piece of that person’s soul – a part of their heart. You can tell somebody who puts pride in their work. I want to make sure people can offer those things. When you buy something that somebody’s made, it’s worth more. It doesn’t always cost more, but it’s worth more.”

The name, Portobello Road South, is a takeoff on Portobello Road in London – considered the world’s best-known street market at more than 150 years old.

“I love Portobello Road, so I thought the name would be cute – we’re Portobello Road South.”

However, while much of Portobello Road is outside, will be inside. That means comfort for the buyer and convenience for the seller.

“You don’t have to worry about the weather. Hot, cold, windy, rainy – it doesn’t matter. Your stuff isn’t going to be ruined. When I was in Vegas, I made soaps and candles, and the candles were melted by the end of the day. They were ruined. I just got tired of stuff breaking every time I would take it. I’ve made ceramics and taken them to the craft fair. By the time you bring them all back home, you’ve broken a lot of your really nice pieces. I’ve gotten tired of the setting up and the tearing down. This time, you bring your stuff and you leave it there. You come any time to re-stock or re-organize. You don’t have to take it back and forth. You can spend that time making new things.”

Ezell promises variety, with different sections featuring certain themes.

“There’s going to be a vintage section because there are still people who have a love for vintage items. We’re going to have a military memorabilia section because of my love for the military and honoring the service they do for our country. It will feature things like Challenge coins from all over the world.

“I have military flags. I have vintage posters from World War II. They’re remade, but they’re replicas of the WW II posters. Things like that are new – they aren’t handmade – but they’re still something that will bring a positive memory to someone if it’s given to them.”

To learn more about Portobello Road South, including how to sign up as a vendor, you may visit www.portobelloroadsouth.com.


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