First published in the Dec. 10 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The light sprinkling of rain, damp chill and warmly dressed holiday shoppers provided a far more befitting setting last Friday evening for the 36-foot walk-through tree in the AMC Walkway of Downtown Burbank than do those warm days when folks pose in front of it in T-shirts and shorts.
From the festively decorated towering tree on down to the AMC box office, the pedestrian corridor of Palm Avenue had taken on the look of a bustling street fair as more than 25 vendors came together to make up the Downtown Burbank Cultural Market, a weekly event held every Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.
As shoppers perused the various booths offering food, baked goods, clothing, jewelry, works of art, home décor items and other eclectic treasures from around the world, the market’s coordinator Hilda Avanessian, operations manager Harry Kevorkian, and goodwill ambassador Natalie Avanessian of the family-owned HyeNoor company, were seemingly omnipresent in making sure everything was flowing properly.
“We started doing a cultural market in Glendale in 2020 as a way to support small businesses and local artisans,” Hilda Avanessian explained. “It proved to be very successful, especially during the pandemic, so we decided to start doing the same thing here in Burbank and people have really loved it.”
While a percentage of the Glendale market’s proceeds benefits the Wounded Warriors Program and the Children of Armenia, a portion of the proceeds from the Burbank market supports Home Again Los Angeles.
Among the regulars who offer their wares at the market is Nelli Avetisian whose small business, Avetisian Bath and Body Care Products, grew out of her company in Armenia and her experience as a pharmacist and university professor.
“Back in Armenia I operated a business on a larger scale offering handmade soaps that are not tested on animals and made of 100% pure, natural herbs and essential oils,” Avetisian said. “I first learned how to do this from my grandmother and women in many area villages. Then, after becoming a pharmacist and understanding how to blend and mix herbs and oils, I began doing research to create soaps that have benefits for various types of skin and hair. I learned a lot about soaps that had been made in the past and what healing properties they could have by the ingredients used.”
Nearby Avetisian’s booth, Brigitte Luis said that by establishing relationships with artisans throughout Mexico, her business, Boutique and Flowers by Brilu, has been able to offer a wide array of items from ceramic creations to clothing and accessories.
“We bring the art and color of Mexico to Burbank, which helps provide a living for those who make these items and gives people here the chance to own things or give gifts that are unique — different than what you would find in malls,” Luis said.
For those who braved last Friday’s chill, the market offered many choices for warmth and substance including beverages from Tim’s Thai Tea and, some of the best tamales you will every taste from Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales.
With a variety of fresh produce and artisanal snacks and delicacies available, the market provides treats from Mexico, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
One of the sweetest offerings can be found at Kat’s Macarons and Stuff where, along with candles, jewelry and cookies, Kat Woodhouse provides market-goers with the opportunity to purchase authentic Parisian-style macarons in an array of gourmet flavors ranging from Earl Gray vanilla, lavender, Dutch chocolate, and banana, to strawberry, French vanilla and rose water.
This coming Friday Woodhouse will also be offering yuletide specialties such as chocolate pecan pie, persimmon, eggnog, gingerbread, spiced orange and cranberry and peppermint mocha macarons. And remember, there’s a difference between macarons (which Kat offers) and macaroons (which she does not). Macarons are made with finely ground blanched almonds, while macaroons are made with sweetened flaked coconut.
If you are looking for a last-minute, unique or one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for those on your list, the Downtown Burbank Cultural Market located at the AMC 16 Theater Walkway, 125 East Palm Ave. is the place to go. The market will be open on Dec. 16 and 23 and then take a short hiatus until January. For more information follow HyeNoor on Instagram or Facebook at facebook.com/DowntownBurbankCulturalMarket.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.