Buying local is on the minds of Akron residents, as the growing popularity of Crafty Mart attests. Since its inception in 2009, the annual holiday craft show that brings together handmade goods, art, clothes, beauty items, toys and repurposed furnishings, among a host of other goods, keeps getting larger each year.
And this year’s Crafty Mart holiday show will span three downtown Akron venues Nov. 28 and 29. The event is a culmination of local business, art and handmade crafters and makers.
“The indie craft scene has exploded in recent years, and it’s almost a subculture now where we’ve got not only a larger base of indie artists and makers, but also the demand for shoppers as people who want these sort of items,” says Joanna Wilson, assistant director of Crafty Mart. “People are tired of shopping at the big box stores for mass produced items and they want something that’s a little more meaningful and handcrafted for themselves, as well as gift items.”
The 7th annual Crafty Mart holiday event runs Saturday Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday. Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at three downtown Akron locations, all within walking distance of one another: Musica (51 E Market St.), the Akron Art Museum (1 S. High St.) and Summit Artspace (140 E. Market St).
“The importance of shopping small is that when you go out and you’re buying something, you’re handing money directly to the artist who made that item so that they can go out and grow their small business even more,” says Brit Charek, Crafty Mart’s director. “And they can continue to contribute to the community, and we have such a creative community here in Akron. If we don’t support that, then that’s not going to thrive.”
“Shopping local is very important because your money stays here and supports local artists and makers, and that money goes into their pockets and supports families here,” says Wilson, whose experience with Crafty Mart began as a vendor of hand-embroidered greeting cards. A local author, Wilson still sells her handmade cards at Crafty Mart events. “I have always supported the mission statement that goes along with Crafty Mart, and I love its small business mindset.”
The weekend’s worth of events also includes 12 workshops hosted by vendors, and music spun by DJs from Mighty Soul Night. Food, beer and coffee will be for sale at Urban Eats, next to Musica, and free parking is available at the parking deck on the southwest corner of High and Market streets, along with the flat lot across the street from Summit Artspace.
More information on the workshops — which range from painting and book-binding to screen printing, calligraphy and paper-folding — is available at www.craftymart.org/workshops-crafty-mart.
Crafty Mart also is a chance for local crafters and makers to test out their businesses before investing in a storefront. Now a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, Crafty Mart hosts pop-up events all year long at the monthly Downtown Akron Art Walks, along with shows at venues like Thirsty Dog brewery.
The group acts as an incubator of sorts for crafters. Charek says she’s seen a number of table vendors go on to start their own businesses. “It’s a great platform for the handmade makers to sell their goods to promote their businesses and let them test the waters to see if this is something they can do full-time or experiment with the idea of having a storefront,” she adds. “So we’re really hoping some of these creative entrepreneurs will take that next step and that Crafty Mart can be a launching pad for them.”