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handmade goods gets BIGGER, craft fairs

Monday, December 12, 2011

17,000 shoppers stopped by Craftywonderland this weekend. 17,000! Just a few short years ago this show was held in the basement of the Doug Fir. I am blown away but not surprised. It is a shopper's glorious, lavish feast of unique goods. I only had two hours to walk the dozens of rows of vendors displaying their handmade goods. I am sure I missed a lot.

Every year there are new vendors to delight the eyes. A man with thick fingers that twisted wire into amazingly detailed subjects. I picked up the naked woman teaching a baby elephant to walk. A goth selling her own brand of lipstick and face powder fashioned from all natural ingredients, the lipstick so full of color one only needs to swipe it once across the lips once to achieve full coverage, a man who had drawn various landmarks around Portland and Seattle and fashioned a beautiful deck of cards, hand painted wooden toys, jackets one finds at the goodwill refashioned into ultra hip embellished hoodies, screenpainted, letterpressed, hand-stamped, hand cast, hand photographed, sewn, hand drawn, HANDMADE goods all made locally with the creators, builders, artisans, crafters personally selling their wares (or someone 1 degree away from the creator). It was all here. Along one wall sat a row of tables with the children of the parents selling at the show peddling their own crafts. Ruby Girl's daughter had made bookmarks and after only 2 hours at the show had already grossed over $100. If she sold out she will have come away with $700. Not bad for someone still in single digits age wise.

The Portland Bazaar ran at the same time. dj's, live bands, vendors selling their art, clothing, my favorite booze, chocolate, Grove, Bridge and Burn, Beacon Sound, salted caramels. Packed as well.

Amanda and Paul had a small art show at their shop Infinity Tattoo. Paul was a former chef and made this rub to die for. I picked up a giant painting by Amanda for my daughter's 9th birthday.

I bought a lot of my gifts over this weekend dropping nearly 1K in total on handmade goods. The things I bought are beautiful and unique. I met each of the artists/creators behind the goods. I feel a connection to each piece because I got to meet the artisan, shake their hands, say hello.

And that's another thing. For a person who is not very social I said hello to a lot of people. These shows are a time of reconnecting, visiting, sparking new ideas. The creativity and energy that surges down these aisles of vendors is mind-blowing. Portland owes a big thank you to Cathy & Torie for Crafty Wonderland.

I talked to over a dozen vendors selling unique baby onesies, baby toys and baby accessories about doing wholesale on my site next year. This is certainly the direction to move towards. The discounts they can offer me are not the traditional ones a wholesaler offers a retailer but this is ok because I am an etailer with less overhead. This means as an etailer I can bring my consumer these amazing products without the typical markup that retailers have to make on products to stay in business. Win Win.

I want to create a bio for each vendor with their products on my site because the connection one feels between buyer and seller is a huge deal. It lends the objects much of their personality and value.

For instance, the print I purchased at the Portland Bazaar of an elephant buried in his grave with circus members gathered atop the grave to mourn, would be meaningless to me if I had purchased it at say Pier One....although I have difficulty imagining this exact print in Pottery Barn or even being in Pier One. I would imagine that there were tens of thousands of these same prints sitting in people's houses across the US. I would never have met the artist and his girlfriend who was helping him man his booth.

I feel hopeful. A sign. 17,000 buyers of handmade goods in one weekend. I hope this is the direction we are headed. It is so beautiful. A utopia of consumption because in this sort of consumption is a very real exchange made between humans. It is warm and fosters positive human interaction. The other model of consumption is one-sided. It is cold and dark.

baby clothes, cool baby clothes, hip baby clothes, organic baby clothes and hopefully soon more handmade baby clothes.

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