Craft fair offers connection, and sales, for P.E.I. artisans

·2 min read

Artisans say the fairs that are going ahead this year provide them important opportunities during a difficult time.

There has been a sharp decline in tourism this year and many seasonal craft fairs have been cancelled by the pandemic.

This year, the annual P.E.I. Craft Council Christmas craft fair was set up in three separate rooms at the Delta in Charlottetown. Only 50 people were allowed in each room at one time and everyone inside had to wear a mask.

By mid-day Saturday, this year's show had already passed last year's attendance.

"I think that craft always has an appeal because of the quality, the personal connection that the shoppers make with them," said Paula Kenney, a board member with the P.E.I. Craft Council.

The opportunity to form those personal connections at the show is gratifying for the vendors.

Robert McMillan, a pottery maker, had just opened a brand new studio in Stratford before the pandemic hit. He said the event provided him something that he really values in his business

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"The human contact, the people, the faces, the conversations, the … people [who] have been buying my work for the past 10 years here in P.E.I.," he said. "And I've come to know some of them. And I feel that coming out and seeing them again is like renewing an old friend."

BJ Sandiford, the owner of Happy Glass, had a studio on Victoria Row in Charlottetown prior to the pandemic. She was forced to close down the studio and move into her own house.

For her, this event gave her the opportunity to get in front of new customers. "Just to remind people that, yeah, I'm not on Vic Row anymore, but I'm still alive," she said.

Katrina Doucette, managing partner of Constantine Designs, came from Halifax to attend the craft fair. It is the biggest event for the business this year.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"Opening up new markets is important, especially in this day and age. And it's nice that within our [Atlantic] bubble, even shipping things is a lot more efficient than shipping out west," she said.

Those attending the fair came for more than conversation.

"Some of the craftspeople that I spoke to last night … said that they had as many sales in one day as they might have for a three-day fair," said Kenney.

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