Once upon a time, everything was handmade. Now? Not so much. Yes, I do buy from Walmart, Target, and many other stores that sell items made in foreign countries, but what can I say? I can't argue with with their low prices and I'm not wealthy enough to fulfill my purchasing needs all from specialty shops.
I know I'm not alone. Most people would rather buy their gifts and decor from the least expensive place available. I know I have fallen victim to that thinking, but there really is something special about buying something, and getting something, that was handmade. Thankfully, the handmade market is in an upswing. Our recently fallen economy has insipred many to partake in the land of crafting and sell their wares as a way of making some extra income. Because of that, there are many new, and not to mention trendy, crafts that are now available.
So where do we buy these great crafts and what do we look for? Many churches and schools hold craft shows for a fundraising activity. You can find many types of crafters at this type of show, including non-craft items, along with many home based catalog businesses. Larger shows, usually over 100 booths, will be juried. Normally, these shows only allow handmade crafts.
So what the difference? You can find many types of crafts at any show, large or small, but larger shows will generally offer more variety because of the jurying process. Smaller shows are less crowded and can give you the chance to talk to the crafter where larger shows can be so busy that you often don't get that chance.
Craft malls and boutiques are another great place to search for crafts. For instance, I only let handmade items in my store. If someone is selling candles with me, I make sure that it is handmade, not just deocrated. Most craft malls will be the same. We are few and far between but it is worth the trip just to see what ideas people have been able to come up with. The plus side of a craft mall or boutique? You can visit when you want to, not just when there's a show. You can shop on your own schedule.
Now what to look for...well, that really depends on what you want, but I do have a few tips on how to get the most for your money. First of all, crafters know that people are closely monitoring their spending habits and are generally spending less, so crafters have priced their wares accordingly. They have made sure that their items are reasonable, and you will find that many are competitively priced with the big chain stores. Many crafters will also offer price breaks when you purchase a certain quantity of an item, so look for pricing information in their booths.
It is every crafter's dream to tbe able to make a living by selling the items they make. They truly appreciate every customer they have so support your local crafter as much as you can. You might be surprised at all the great things you'll find.