SHIPPENSBURG – On Sunday, July 14, more than thirty vendors packed into the main room of The Thought Lot (37 E. Garfield St.) – with more vendors and food trucks lined up outside – for “Creators & Makers,” a summer pop-up handcrafted market.
The event, which ran from 2-7 p.m., provided local artisans with an opportunity to sell handmade items without competition from direct sales companies.
The summer pop-up market featured jewelry, soaps, pottery, knitted goods, fabric items, furniture, children’s books, and more – plus several food trucks and baked goods.
This was the second “Creators & Makers” event. The first one was held in April. It had been so successful that the planners added two more dates: one in July and one in November (just in time for the holidays).
Despite its apparent success, the “Creators & Makers” pop-up series almost didn’t get off of the ground at all.
Alexa Schoenberger of New Wave Candle Co. originally proposed the idea to Hannah Nawa, the owner of Whiskers Vintage & Vinyl (located inside The Thought Lot), who also oversees nearly every aspect of The Thought Lot.
They two had met for coffee at One Bean Espresso Bar (32 E. King St., Shippensburg) to discuss the possibility collaborating and sharing booths in upcoming local vendor markets.
Schoenberger’s soy candles were already available in Nawa’s retail storefront, so a partnership seemed mutually beneficial.
Then Schoenberger asked: “Why bother waiting for one? Why don’t we just make our own?”
Nawa was initially hesitant, but ultimately agreed.
“I said, ‘Okay, if it’s something you want to do, I’ll support you, and we’ll get it done,” said Nawa. “(Schoenberger) was really who inspired it and pushed for it to occur, and I just facilitated it.”
All of the items at the market have to be at least partially made by the vendor.
This rule supports independent business owners by actively promoting handmade pieces, but it also gives them a place to promote their businesses without interference from corporate-backed, direct sales marketers, which have become pervasive in local storefronts and social media feeds.
“We were very adamant on not having direct sales,” said Nawa. “That was the whole point of this. It’s hard, when you have an event with direct sales, for independent retailers to compete.”
She added, “The point is for it to be handcrafted goods from local artisans. Really, just to stay away from direct sales because we’re flooded with that in this area.”
Schoenberger’s candles, for example, are manufactured on her dining room table, and they can currently be purchased at boutique locations like Whiskers Vintage & Vinyl and Northeast Hide & Company (473 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg).
They can also be purchased directly from her at handcrafted fairs like this one.
The “Creators & Makers” pop-up was presented by Whiskers Vintage & Vinyl, which offers clothing, records and gift items that are either secondhand or manufactured in the USA – often within the Cumberland Valley.
The Thought Lot is a contemporary arts center, which includes a music venue and an art gallery. It is also an incubator of sorts for local businesses as it currently provides the storefront for Ace Music and more businesses that have yet to be announced.
“We try to be a hub for community events,” said Nawa. “We have everything from these events (the “Creators & Makers” pop-up series) to book festivals, and a sock hop for the historical society. We try to be a gathering point for different parts of the community to come together and do something positive.”
The next “Creators & Makers” pop-up market will be held on Sunday, November 17 at The Thought Lot.
[Main image caption: Co-organizer Alexa Schoenberger of New Wave Candle Co. completes a sales transaction at “Creators & Makers” a summer pop-up handcrafted market held at The Thought Lot in Shippensburg on July 14.]