The weekend after Thanksgiving will provide Cincinnati shoppers with many opportunities to focus on local goods and regional crafts in lieu of big-box Black Friday shopping.
, held Nov. 28 at the Music Hall Ballroom, will feature crafters and makers from all over the eastern U.S. The event, started six years ago by Grace Dobush and Chris Salley Davis, is a curated show that values the quality of the vendors over quantity available. It has a competitive process to be selected as a vendor — the show had more than 200 applications for this year’s 90 vendor slots.
“We’re expecting a blowout,” says Dobush, explaining that last year saw 5,000 shoppers visit their Music Hall holiday show, with the year before attracting around 4,000.
The next day, City Flea Small Mall
will have a smaller scale but just as strict a focus on vendor quality. The Small Mall is City Flea’s way to bring 30 of Cincinnati’s local brick-and-mortar stores together at one time for a unique holiday shopping kickoff at 21c Museum Hotel downtown.
“Our normal markets are open to vendors ranging in anything from vintage to found objects to artisan style food products,” says founder and organizer Lindsay Dewald. “We wanted to create a holiday event that highlighted the plethora of actual stores in and around our city.”
Both Crafty Supermarket and the Small Mall provide shoppers an opportunity to purchase unique, handcrafted goods from small businesses or directly from the artisans who created them.
“Buying directly from a maker in person is the best way to support them,” says Dobush, who also authored The Crafty Superstar: Ultimate Craft Business Guide
. “They get all the money you give them. Artists are working really hard for their money, and any time you can eliminate the middle man (like third-party website fees), that’s a huge help.”
These one-day shopping experiences support some of the smallest entrepreneurs and newest startups in Cincinnati and across the region.
Of Crafty Supermarket’s 90 vendors from 12 states, between 15 and 20 are local crafters who have been through ArtWorks’ Creative Enterprise
programs. Dobush says she met a couple at a Columbus craft fair who commuted every week to Cincinnati to participate in ArtWorks’ nine-week Co.Starters class.
Pop-up and craft shows like Crafty Supermarket, the Small Mall and Mortar’s Brick 939
pop-up shop create additional opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect with consumers.
“(I’m) most excited about seeing some of the stores that have opened up within this past year to be participating,” Dewald says of the Small Mall. “It’s exciting that new stores continue to pop up on a pretty regular basis.”
Participating in each of these holiday events can be part of a day on the town in either Over-the-Rhine (for the Crafty Supermarket) or downtown (for the Small Mall). Throw in Brick 939, which opens on Black Friday in Walnut Hills, and there will be a wide variety of shopping sites and experiences in the urban core throughout the weekend.
Besides “making a day of it,” Dobush has one last tip for shoppers: “If you love crafts but hate crowds, come after 4 p.m.” in order to support Crafty Supermarket entrepreneurs in a more leisurely environment.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28
Music Hall Ballroom, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
City Flea Small Mall
12-6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29
21c Museum Hotel, 609 Walnut St., Downtown
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27
939 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills
[Open Fridays-Sundays through Jan. 3]