Laura Turek clutched several shopping bags as she navigated the MN Christmas Market, a pop-up retail event that's again touring the state this month after being canceled last year.

Her purchases included Dober Bones dog biscuits and a Minnesota-themed children's crinkle book. Turek and her daughter, Sarah Ruhland, admired the work of Minnesota and Wisconsin artisans and makers who were selling gifts when the event was set up at Union Depot in St. Paul earlier this month.

"That's what we're all about, shopping local," Turek said. "I appreciate the talent of the people who do this."

Ruhland chimed in: "Especially because of the pandemic, we have a real passion to support people."

The MN Christmas Market is one of many pop-up shopping events across the region.

Set in varied indoor and outdoor spots, these festive markets are a destination for an afternoon or evening of fun as well as a chance to buy local merchandise. Coffee, cocktails and food are usually offered.

Retailers say the pandemic underscored shoppers' drive to buy local realizing the makers' survival depended on it. MeetMinneapolis features a number of these popup events.

Holidazzle in downtown Minneapolis moved to a pop-up format several years ago and returns this year. The Department at Dayton's Makers Market will be the debut of the Nicollet Mall project on Thursday.

Some of the pop-up events are more eclectic. Coming up are the Feminist Book Club Holiday Market in Minneapolis, Raging Art On at the Gamut Gallery in Minneapolis and Betty Danger's & Psycho Suzi's fifth-annual Bizarre Bazaar at the two restaurants in northeast Minneapolis.

Christmas markets have a long history going back hundreds of years to central Europe. One of the most famous is the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg with traditional red- and white-roofed booths selling handmade crafts, mulled wine and the city's famous gingerbread.

A Christkindlmarket Chicago was launched in 1996 in a partnership that included vendors from Nuremberg and has grown to a location in Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville and another in Milwaukee. Some families come annually to shop for ornaments and munch on brats and sauerkraut, said Leila Schmidt, a spokeswoman.

"It's the smells, the roasted nuts, the holiday music, the whole experience of seeing vendors, maybe meeting a vendor who you've bought ornaments from before," she said. "For people of German heritage, it feels like a piece of home in the heart of the city."

A pop-up market in Excelsior beginning Nov. 26 takes the name Christkindlsmarkt. Most of the other Twin Cities pop-up markets focus on the holidays but not German culture.

MN Christmas Market Organizer Becky Sturm has seen the event — which was in Rochester and Minneapolis this past weekend and heads to Duluth later this month — grow as shopping local becomes trendy.

About 3,000 shoppers attended the Union Depot event, though that was below the average of 3,500 the event saw before the pandemic. All artisans, makers and brands donate 7% of sales from the event to a local charity that fights for kids in the Twin Cities.

"People, with the supply-chain issues, are driven to buy the products here because the makers here have the products," said Sturm, whose StormSister Spatique also had a presence.

Laurie Sorenson handmakes her L E S Bags and sells them at the Walker Art Center and other shops but finds that having the wool-felt bags, totes and purses on display at the MN Christmas Market boosts sales. "This kind of event brings in a variety of people who might buy what I'm selling," she said.

Sorenson hands out cards and often gets calls for items closer to the holidays.

The MN Christmas Market is one of the highest-grossing sales events for Bella (Nhi) Lam of Coconut Whisk vegan and gluten free cookie mixes. "It's very festive," she said. "The customers are excited to shop local and it's fun to meet other makers."

The market was one of the holiday traditions that Kate Winter of Minneapolis missed in 2020. "We didn't really know how much we missed it last year until we came back," she said.

She and her mother picked up PuzzleTwists (puzzles with a twist, of course) and peach cobbler in a jar.

"We come to be surprised. I know there will be good stuff," Winter said. "I love seeing the people I'm buying from and shopping local."