With holiday craft fairs in short supply, Island artists are snatching up storefront space

·3 min read
Alanda Rideout-Drost, who runs Island Pebble and Sea Glass Art, has help set up a stronefront in Charlottetown she and others can sell thier work for the holiday season. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
Alanda Rideout-Drost, who runs Island Pebble and Sea Glass Art, has help set up a stronefront in Charlottetown she and others can sell thier work for the holiday season. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. holiday craft season is in full swing, but some large fairs that typically take place in Island schools have been cancelled this year due to pandemic protocols.

It's something artists on the Island had to deal with last year, too, when almost all craft fairs were put on hold due to COVID-19.

Alanda Rideout-Drost who runs Island Pebble and Sea Glass Art was worried she and others wouldn't have a place to sell this season, so she found a space in the Confederation Court Mall in downtown Charlottetown where artists can sell their goods together.

"A lot of the craft fairs were cancelled this year," she said. "Schools cancelled their craft fairs and nobody had any place to sell anything.

"I just think it's important for each person to have a place that they can have the products available seven days a week."

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Creative Crafters is now open six days a week, but will be open seven days a week starting December.

The shop rotates who works on cash through the vendors who offer products at the store. Those who put their goods in the shop are also splitting the cost of the space, but vendors don't have to pay a fee to have their goods in store.

"Everybody's sales would be for their own sale and not be divided amongst two or three different people. We just wanted to make sure everybody had a chance to sell."

The shop sells rings, clothing, signs, cards and several other products created by local artisans.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Peter Fullerton is one of the artists putting his goods at the shop. He makes bottle stoppers out of fine woods. He also makes rings.

While he also sells online, he said a storefront is important for some consumers.

"People certainly like to see what they are going to get, they like to see styles and people like to touch and look at things," he said.

"Word of mouth is a big thing. People will see your products. I will tell them about the shop they will come here and look at the other 17 artisans."

There are 17 vendors using the space. Rideout-Drost said about 75 people applied to have their products in store, but the space just wasn't available.

Creative Crafters expects to close up for the season on Christmas Eve, but Rideout-Drost said things are going so well they will try it again next year.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Some are even hoping to turn crafting into a full-time business.

Laurie Carr runs Red Island Handcrafted in Charlottetown with her daughter. The store sells work from around 90 local artisans and just opened in August.

"The makers love the idea that they can have their products displayed year round in a location central to everybody," she said.

"It's convenient for the makers to just drop their product off and not have to worry about doing the meet-ups that sometimes happen, sometimes don't happen."

While there are still some small craft fairs happening across the Island, Carr wanted to set up a year-round storefront so crafters could sell their goods beyond the busy holiday season.

"With the local craft fairs that are happening, they're very restricted to the amount of people that can come in, sometimes there's long waits to get into them.

Carr said she might still have some room for vendors who have small goods, but right now she has a waiting list of local artisans hoping to sell at the shop.

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