Craft Market provides unique experience that Etsy can’t match

Photo by Matthew Pellerin

Craig Greentree displaying his items on sale at the Durham Fall Craft Market

It was a gloomy, rainy September day in Oshawa. While many preferred staying sheltered at home, some Oshawa residents had something else in mind.

Hundreds of patrons piled into the Oshawa Curling Club to find crafts, art and other creative handmade items on display at the Durham Fall Craft Market.

The crafts and hidden treasures ranged from handmade candles to woodcarvings and even designs made out of crystal. Vendors themselves ranged from young to old, from longtime artists to people who had picked up their specific craft less than a year before selling their wares.

Most of the vendors had turned their craft into multifaceted business’, with websites, Facebook pages and even physical stores to sell their wares. While these online aspects may help spread awareness, many vendors said what really helps sell their products is the face-to-face experience only markets can provide.

“I feel like as an artist, you need to have that face to face,” says Danielle Lewis of Attn2Detail Designs. Danielle’s business, Attn2Detail, produces intricately delicate handmade origami and other fine paper crafts.

Websites like Etsy allow artists and people from all around the world to sell their crafts, but to actually meet the artist, make a connection and see their crafts in person makes a difference to both vendors and customers. “The sales have increased quite a bit because people can actually see it in person,” Danielle points out.

Most vendors at The Durham Fall Craft Market were either the only representative, or one of a handful specializing in their craft. Artists online run the risk of having too much competition for people’s attention. Searching for ‘woodwork’ on Etsy, for example, produces tens of thousands of results. In comparison, The Durham Fall Craft Market had only a handful of woodworkers, like GreenTree Designs and JF Woodworking, who were able to showcase their products, as opposed to the oversaturation that is found online.

For many of the vendors at the market, websites like Etsy serve to promote their products rather than produce revenue.

“Etsy is competitive and oversaturated,” says Danielle Lewis. Her work stands out as unique at the market, but may run the risk of getting lost amidst the competition online.

The Durham Fall Craft Market is a crucial key to the success of these artist’s work, sales or hobbies. “I think it’s a crucial thing to get out in the public and connect with people,” Danielle Lewis points out.

“I’ve been to shows where there hasn’t been a lot of people, but this is great, especially for being a first show. They did an amazing job,” says Danielle. “Online I do a little bit of sales, but I think when people can actually come and see how much work goes into it, that’s good for me,” While they may not always leave with a duffle bag full of money, the praise, pride and notoriety that they receive at markets helps keep their craft alive.

Organizers have said that the event will start to take place annually, and that plans are already in motion for returning next year.

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Matthew Pellerin is a second year journalism student at Durham College. He enjoys writing about politics, technology, and news ranging from around the world, the local community, to right on campus. When he's not waxing poetically on his blog, he's usually nose-deep in world news.