Monday, March 13, 2006

Vasa Park Ballroom

Another week, another spring craft show! Today we are setting up at Vasa Park Ballroom in Bellevue. Located on Lake Sammamish, it's close to Issaquah, just a short distance off of I-90 and easy to get to for all you Eastsiders.

Warning advertising blurble ahead: Welcome spring! Come browse, shop and delight in our selection of collectible folk art and fresh spring ideas in a most festive setting. 95 of our most desired crafters and designers display original hand made treasures for your spring, Easter and year-round decorating and gift giving fun. See the wonderful hand crafted designs we feature, made by artists of all kinds. Many new and also lots of old favorites.

So here are the dates and times: Wednesday, March 15th, 3-9pm, Thursday & Friday, March 16th & 17th, 10am-8pm, & Saturday, March 18th, 10am-6pm.

Vasa Park Resort's Site and Directions

Sue at Country Crafts organizes this really beautiful show and I am always really excited to be there. Attendance at these craft shows has been lagging a bit the last couple of years and none of us have truly figured out why. There are lots of theories being bounced around, all of which hold some kernals of truth. But I think it's just a big stew of all these ingredients: the economy here in the NW took a hit, the huge prevalence of import products from China and beyond -- even exact replicas of our own ideas, sold for much cheaper prices every where you look, the lack of value for handcrafted work in our global marketplace, the evolution of online shopping and even the intense competition in certain craft categories. For example, soap in particular has changed drastically since I first began this work a decade ago. Handmade soap was still new and unusual. Handcrafted and organic spa products were just a glimmer on the horizon. But it became the hot ticket -- not only did dozens of local folks jump in and start their own businesses, saturating the market, but corporate entities starting making look-alikes. Even Bath & Body Works started their stores, making rough little bars that looked home grown. Every single salon, fashion boutique, home accessories store carried either their own line, or lots of little lines of small business products. There wasn't a retail place you could walk into that didn't have some kind of handmade soap there -- even pet shops with little "flea away" handmade pet soaps. So the folks that used these products now had a million places to pick up a bar, and didn't need to find their little local street fair or bazaar to get the goods.

The point is that sometimes it appears like handmade goods are doing better than ever, when in reality, so many of my friends -- artists and organizers alike -- have recently left to get "real jobs" or decided their passion was better off as a hobby than a business. And I worry that we'll find ourselves suddenly yesterday's news.

Bit I digress. This was certainly not meant to be a plea for help or a guilt trip to check out this week's show. Just yabbering around the water cooler as we get together and set up for one of our very finest spring shows with high hopes and delicate expectations.