Supporting local small businesses and artisans will be more of a priority than in the past among many shoppers, with the goal of helping struggling small businesses and artisan friends stay afloat amid the pandemic’s economic strain.
With safety at the forefront of all of our minds, three regional market organizers have collaborated to create a comprehensive shopping experience this season. “Early in the pandemic, we realized there would be a need to shift how we were able to provide opportunities for our artists,” said Carrie Nardini, director of Pittsburgh-based I Made It! Market, which is partnering with Cleveland Bazaar and Akron’s Crafty Mart for the Shop Holiday Handmade effort. “We also wanted to be a support system for artists working to make this shift. That got us talking regularly about collaboration as one unique method of expanding our artists’ reach to new customers.”
Starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 and running through Sunday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m., the Shop Holiday Handmade Facebook page will be a place to post questions, interact with artists, show off your best shopping finds and in general, pretend as if we’re all in a room together discovering the perfect gifts in person.
The Shop Holiday Handmade’s catalog live now, will serve as a throwback to the days when circling your favorite items was better than a trip to the mall. Shop Holiday Handmade also will feature an online marketplace, videos from artists showcasing their spaces and processes, and artist features on over 125 artists spanning all three cities.
Shoppers will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite vendors and discover new artists through the website, individual Facebook pages and the Shop Holiday Handmade page, Instagram Lives, posts and stories. Each of these pages has thousands of followers, and the goal is to generate a robust shopping experience.
These three veteran organizers have canceled over 25 events in 2020, a devastating loss of income for vendors who rely on summer markets to keep their businesses going throughout the year between holiday seasons. The directors, lifelong advocates of shopping handmade, knew that it was critical to re-imagine holiday shopping in order to support these local artisans and offer the handmade alternatives to big-box shopping that their shoppers have always loved.
Participating artists create a variety of goods, from ceramics, fiber arts, 2-D art and prints, food, clothing, children’s items and toys, jewelry to bath and body items, photography, fine spirits, candles, housewares, items created from repurposed materials and woodwork.
The catalog will be open until late December to enable shoppers to even shop handmade wares after the holiday. We encourage everyone so shop local this holiday season.