It’s Time for Crafty Mart’s Mom & Pop Shoppe

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We asked Crafty Mart organizers Joanna Wilson and Brit Charek to answer Five Fast Questions. Here’s what they had to say.

by Chris Horne

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time once again for Crafty Mart’s annual Mom & Pop Shoppe.  The Mom & Pop Shoppe is the Spring show which features goods and gift items appropriate for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, and home & garden decor. On Saturday, April 2nd, from 10am-4pm, Crafty Mart will host nearly 70 local artists and makers offering handmade and up-cycled goods made throughout the greater Akron area.

The Mom & Pop Shoppe vendors include woodworkers, fiber artists, printmakers, graphic designers, painters, ceramicists, boutique candy makers and chocolatiers, health & beauty product makers, jewelry designers, clothing designers, those who work with leather goods, and more.

This year, Crafty Mart has moved locations, and will spread across the Akron Art Museum (1 S. High Street), Summit Artspace (140 E. Market Street), and Akron Main Library (60 S. High Street).

New additions this year include a free Make-and-Take table, open from 1-4 pm at the library, where anyone can learn to make beautiful marbled paper, as well as a partnership with Countryside Conservancy, for which farm vendors will be set up alongside Crafty Mart vendors on April 2nd.

 

Joanna Wilson

How have you been surprised over the last year — by Crafty Mart, Akron, regular ol’ life, etc.?
I’ve been surprised by the sheer numbers of people I’ve met in the past year who are just as excited as I am about all the good stuff happening in Akron these days. It’s never been easier to meet people who are looking to get involved and want to support our arts & culture community. I bump into cool people everywhere I go.

Who are some of your favorite people to see at the Crafty Mart events? (Vendors, friends, organizers, volunteers, etc).
We have a term for friends who are also vendors–we call them ‘friendors.’ Of course, I love seeing my friendors at the shows but I also get a big kick out of the loyal patrons we’ve accumulated over the past 8 years of Crafty Mart events. I may not know everyone’s name but we do this for the shoppers too. People want a place to come and meet their friends, listen to the funky music, enjoy a tasty beverage, and check out the latest one-of-a-kind handmade goodies. If I wasn’t an organizer, I’d still be coming to Crafty Mart shows.

Why do you go through all the hours of work Crafty Mart requires on top of all the other stuff you do day-to-day?
Why is not a hard question for me. I’m never far away from knowing that what we do is important to people. We know we are helping local artists and makers earn a living. We’re the first ones who see the raised spirits of someone leaving a successful workshop. And, we’re the desperate ones trying to establish a head count of the thousands of shoppers who enter our doors! We know what we do is important to everyone who attends Crafty Mart events.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the start?
Wait a minute-I need to get a tissue after that last question! [pause] Okay. I think my advice would be to not sweat it. I remember being cautious and slow at the start, fearful of not knowing what the future would bring. But I think slow growth has benefited us. As shoppers continue to create demands for more events, we’ve been ready to supply savvier, more experienced makers/artists.

When you think about Crafty Mart’s future, where do you see the organization and events going?
I’m excited to see Crafty Mart jumping in to help our growing artist and maker community to build and develop their business skills and know-how. We have a series of entrepreneur classes coming later this year. We also see our workshops expanding as they continue to explode in popularity. If you’ve been to one of our Artwalk Pop-Up Markets lately, you’ll know that we sometimes scramble to accommodate everyone. It’s nice that people are so eager to learn a new skill to express themselves. Who doesn’t want to take something home that they’ve made themselves?

 

Brit Charek

How have you been surprised over the last year — by Crafty Mart, Akron, regular ol’ life, etc.?
My whole year got turned upside down with the birth of my son in February. When we actually made it to our first post-partum Crafty Mart event, we left with a handful of beautiful gifts, a giant box of diapers, and the hugest smiles. It was equal parts reassuring and kinda scary that my staff and volunteers put on an amazing event without my help– I’m so lucky to work with such great people!

Who are some of your favorite people to see at the Crafty Mart events? (Vendors, friends, organizers, volunteers, etc)
I always say my favorite part about Crafty Mart is the community we’ve built. I love having the chance to see all our “friendors”, whether they’re local or traveling from out of town! Some of my returning favorites would have to be Jordan of Wright and Rede, Pat of the Robot Consortium, Sam of snow., Jenean of Belly Acres Farm Studio, Kate of Chicalookate, and Bethany of Beethings Studios. Those are just a few– I could name so many more, plus all the newbies whose hands I can’t wait to shake! I also can’t wait to see Jennifer of smARTStudio and see how her David Bowie painting class turns out.

Why do you go through all the hours of work Crafty Mart requires on top of all the other stuff you do day-to-day?
The end result makes it so worth it. To have so much talent on display while being able to show off our beautiful downtown makes for one hell of a party!

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the start?
Ask for help! I tend to feel guilty asking people to do things for me, and sometimes I even have a hard time giving up complete control of the processes I’ve built or even taking the time to explain them, but working with a team over the last two years has helped me realize that I can’t do everything on my own. And because of this amazing team of staff, board members and volunteers, Crafty Mart has grown by leaps and bounds.

When you think about Crafty Mart’s future, where do you see the organization and events going?
Well, we’re here to stay. As long as there are consumers who want to shop local and artist entrepreneurs who want a launchpad to sell their wares, we will work hard to serve both those audiences.

 

In 2013, Crafty Mart was voted one of the “Best of the City” by Akron Life Magazine. For more information on Crafty Mart’s past and present, go to: craftymart.org.

Admission to Crafty Mart is free. Parking is free on the street and at the Library Parking Deck on the SW Corner of High & Market Streets.

A complete list of vendors can be found at craftymart.org/mom-pop-shoppe-1/#list-of-vendors

Sign-ups and more info about the workshops can be found at craftymart.org/mom-pop-shoppe-1/#workshops-crafty-mart

 

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