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Drift Marketplace brings a space for student creativity to Franklin Street

Art by the student-run company MadGriffin Studio sits inside of Drift Marketplace in Chapel Hill, N.C. on March 22nd.

From jewelry to vintage clothing, Chapel Hill's Drift Marketplace serves as a gallery that showcases exclusively student-made art and goods.

Some of the student businesses housed under Drift Marketplace include MadGriffin Studio, Rosemary Street Market and Brik N' Brak. It is located at 422 West Franklin St.

UNC senior Hunter Burkard, the owner of Drift Marketplace, opened the gallery in March 2021.

“I saw the space was available for rent about a year ago, so I reached out to the number on the door,” he said. “And, I was basically told that the space was open.”

Burkard didn't initially know what he was going to use the space for, but decided to open an art gallery. He wanted to help his artistic friends showcase their work.

"I had a lot of friends who were involved in art,” he said. “I thought that it would be a really cool thing to get into just because I’ve always been interested in it.”

Burkard said that part of Drift Marketplace's mission is to try to connect student artists and businesses with the greater Chapel Hill community.

The business went through several different name ideas, originally starting with Reverie Studios, then Gallery 542, before settling on Drift Marketplace in November.

Burkard said that as the business collectively added more artists, he felt that the name Drift Marketplace was the best fit.

Max Holt, the founder of Rosemary Street Market, said that his company initially started off selling vintage clothing products on Instagram and other platforms like eBay before it joined Drift Marketplace.

Burkard reached out to Holt when the gallery was in its early stages.

“I was one of the first artists in there,” Holt said.

He added that, since August, Rosemary Street Market has continued to stock its inventory at the gallery.

When artists move their inventory into Drift Marketplace, there is no rent or cost to place items in the store, Burkard said. Instead, Drift Marketplace takes commission from the sale items.

The more hours an artist works in the store, the more reduced their commission rate will be, he said. 

“We wanted to make it as easy as possible and as low cost as possible for student artists," Burkard said. "So that way that wouldn't be a barrier for them to get started."

UNC student Grayson Franco said in an email that she would always pass by the store on her way to and from work, when art pieces like a rug of Dragonair from Pokémon caught her attention.

Though the rug was sold out, she's kept supporting Drift Marketplace. One of the co-founders of MadGriffin Studio, which is housed in the gallery, is a friend of Franco's.

“My friend Maddy Bircher sells her art there, so I bought a few collage prints from her,” she said.

Burkard said he hopes to continue supporting UNC students' ideas and dreams within the marketplace, providing a platform for them to be themselves.

He said that it is rare to have accessible resources for entrepreneurship in Chapel Hill and that finding these opportunities early on is important.

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“If you're just somebody who wants to be an artist and wants to be entrepreneurial, this is the place to do that,” Burkard said. “And so I think that although it's been a work in progress, I think it's long overdue — this kind of platform for students.”


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