I know sometimes they’re crazy. Sometimes they smell like potpourri. Sometimes you have to dodge really, really slow people who like to stop and stare before they make their next kill. But beyond those complications, there are even more really amazing reasons why you should hunt for the flyers, punch those addresses in your GPS, and hit up two or three a Saturday.
Because craft fairs are PEOPLE.
In my experience with craft fairs, starting from when I was a very young girl visiting my Great Aunt’s ceramic table at the county courthouse craft bazaar, I have found that the majority of vendors fall under a few different categories. The majority, but definitely not all.
The majority of crafters are either:
- a) Retirees doing something they love and looking to make a little extra money,
- b) Moms (and dads) doing something they love and looking to make a little extra money, or
- c) A person in your community doing something they love in order to support a cause that they care about.
The crafters I know are very talented. They are passionate about what they do. (Trust me, people don’t spend hundreds of hours working on products and covered in paint or sawdust or pin-pricks if they are not passionate about what they’re doing.) And the majority of them are using their skills to make money for whatever reason- to cushion their Christmas expenses, to pay for the next meal, or to benefit a cause that touches their heart.
I can think of no better way to spend my money.
We hosted our first ever craft fair last weekend, and I was amazed at the high quality of men and women represented. We had stay-at-home-moms, crafters donating their proceeds to orphans and service dogs, retired Grandmas and Grandpas, chic stylish mommies with brand new babies, moms and daughters, best friends… you name it! And they were all there because they were passionate and proud of their work and wanted to share it with the world.
As I looked out over that room packed full of talent and hard work, I thought about today’s youth and their mile-long electronic-laced Christmas lists. Their craving for the toy they saw on TV last week. Their NEED for the stylish, imported boots or the hat with the Team Logo. I was so sad that there was nothing in that room that would satify their desire for the modern, mass-produced, plastic and processed world we live in.
Somewhere along the way we have lost the value of things created by hand. We have lost the desire for quality and durability. We traded handcrafted items that were made with blood, sweat, and passion for quick, easy, cheap fixes made on a machine by a poor village woman half a world away and sold for a company’s profit.
The products before me this weekend were made by people. People who I got to shake hands with. People who had stories. And families. People who lived in my community. Who would watch my daughter grow up. Who would someday sit next to me at a soccer game. Or hold the door open for me at a restaurant.
I can’t say the same for the man who pushed the button on the machine that molded five million phone cases and then passed through three continents and a dozen trickle-down profit-makers before it was shipped to me by Amazon. I don’t know him.
But I know the girl who sold me my new favorite lip-gloss that tastes like an orange-cicle.
I know the lady who hand made the pair of earrings that made me feel like a princess yesterday.
I had a conversation and a smile with the woman who made the gorgeous, modern set of triangle Christmas trees that will decorate my home this Christmas and I will cherish forever.
And I was completely blessed by the grandmother who painstakingly painted over two dozen ceramic ornaments while she was laid up after having knee surgery just last week. To one of which my little girl pointed and said, “I want to give it to Grandmommy!”
The iPads and the plastic toys and the dime-a-dozen pillows will always be there, tempting us with their easy-access and their frequent discounts. We will not stop shopping at the big box stores. And we will not stop filling our homes with ‘made in China’ wares. And that’s ok… I love the Chinese people, too!
But this Christmas as you look down your Christmas list, you might keep the crafters in mind. You might consider buying something beautiful, handmade, and local. Because these are people. Your people. And each purchase you make this Christmas will have an impact somewhere in the world…
it might as well be here.