Business booms in Market Square

Rhianwen Watkins

The 43rd annual Market Square Day festivities took place once again this year after being canceled in 2020, in the heart of downtown Portsmouth. 

Businesses of all kinds set up booths, selling food, clothing items, jewelry and handmade art, and organizations promoted their goals. There was also a stage set up on Pleasant Street, outside of the well-loved Book and Bar café, highlighting performances by multiple groups including the gospel vocalists of Rock My Soul 5, indie-folk band River Sister, Ambulate As Tolerated and The Rockingham Groove. 

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) had its own stand promoting the UNH Athletics Department. 

“We always like to work with folks in the community, especially Portsmouth. It’s a great community to be involved in,” said Cullen Barnes, account executive for the UNH Athletics Department. “It’s really important that we show ourselves in Portsmouth and encourage people to come out to our events in Durham.” 

Barnes mentioned that the UNH booth was holding a raffle for two tickets to the UNH football game against Dartmouth on Oct. 16.. He said that the department will be drawing the winners this week, and the winners will be receiving a phone call by the end of the day Tuesday. 

Also holding a booth at Market Square Day was Rob Werner, New Hampshire state director for the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a national environmental nonprofit. “LCV is one of the organizations that started the first earth day in 1970, just a year after we were founded,” said Werner. “We work to make sure that our elected representatives at all levels of government from city council on up to the president are making climate action and clean energy a priority.”  

Werner emphasized that reducing carbon emissions is important for so many reasons, but also noted that tackling the climate crisis is going to create economic opportunities for people. He added that Pease is well-positioned to be a real leader in the deployment of clean energy. 

“We’re very fortunate that our congressional delegation in NH is very supportive of our priorities and to really make climate a priority and really get to a situation where we’re solving this existential crisis that we face but in a way that is going to be beneficial to people,” said Werner. 

Werner said the booth sparked lots of interest, and that the organization also plans to be at U-Day, which is held at UNH on Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thompson Hall lawn, to bring knowledge of their organization’s goals to the UNH community. 

Kathryn Dziadowicz, a UNH alumna, was also present at the festivities, holding a booth to promote her art business, where she does ocean-inspired epoxy resin art.  

The Long Island native moved to New Hampshire with a goal of bringing the beach with her through her art. Dziadowicz has a degree in engineering, but decided to rediscover her artistic side, which she said she gave up in high school. 

Dziadowicz sells an array of household pieces including coasters, fridge magnets, wall art, and more. Dziadowicz has an online presence, and mainly works out of her home. Her merchandise can also be found at Tulips in Portsmouth, as well as all of the Locally Handmade stores in Kittery, Salem, Merrimack and the Fox Run Mall in Newington. 

This is Dziadowicz’s first time selling her art at Market Square Day. “It’s been a really great day,” said Dziadowicz. “It’s nice to see Market Square back in full swing.” 

Mae Robinson, owner of DTTO’s, also showcased her handmade goods at Market Square Day. The business sells cloths that are intended to be used in place of throw-away paper goods, according to Robinson. “I use them for everything from washing the floor, to washing my face,” she said. 

Robinson explained that “DTTO” stands for “Don’t throw this out” and that the absence of the “I” reinforces the idea of reusing the “T”, much like the purpose of their merchandise.  

Robinson began the business in December, making reusable goods as a quarantine activity, which inspired the idea of a business. She said that her sister helps in making the cozies, scrubbies, and baskets made from burlap coffee bags.  

“It’s been very good,” said Robinson of the Market Square Day event. “Met all my expectations.” 

Dan Stevens, owner of Captain Mowatt’s in Portland, Maine, displayed his award-winning hot sauce collection at Market Square Day. His business,  named after Captain Mowatt who burned down Portland in 1975, has a goal to “keep Portland burning” with their extraordinary, handmade hot sauces.  

The business started as a family activity when Stevens’ kids were younger. They asked him for 10 dollars, so he helped them make hot sauce to bring to a local restaurant. He explained how he sent them in with an invoice, and they came out with a check in their hands and a big smile on their faces.  

“Restaurant calls up and says, yeah we need more hot sauce. I say no you don’t get it, that was just a little family lesson,” recalled Stevens. “They go, you don’t get it. People are asking. We need more hot sauce.”  

This led to Stevens moving to a commercial kitchen where, to this day, he makes the coveted sauces with his son, son-in-law, brother-in-law, a friend of his and his daughter who lives in Tahoe, running the marketing. They have been in business for 25 years. 

Captain Mowatt’s has won multiple awards, and their Canceaux sauce has taken first place in the country for the last 9 years at multiple competitions. 

Stevens has been at Market Square Day now for 20 years and said that sales are right on track with his success at Market Square Day in 2019. 

Market Square Day this year was a success. The city bustled jovially with happy customers and businesses were contented to bring their products back to the Portsmouth community, for yet another year.