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Virtual Craft Shows - The New Normal and Reasons to Love Them

Lisa Robertson

Posted on September 08 2020

Do you miss attending Craft Shows and Markets as much as I do? I miss the excitement of preparing and  setting up for a market. I miss meeting new people. I miss getting to chat with customers in person. I miss my maker community here in Ottawa. Markets have also been a great place for me to test out new designs.

There are still some smaller in person shows and craft markets taking place and some larger shows are still scheduled for later in the year. Most of the shows that I was planning on doing have been cancelled and think it’s the right call. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I have made the decision to not do any in person shows and markets for the rest of this year. I’d like to say it was a difficult decision, but in reality, it wasn’t. The safety of your health and your family’s health, as well as my own, and my family’s health made it a relatively easy thing to decide.

I am however, taking part in several online virtual markets over the next few months leading up to the Holidays. These markets will allow you to shop the handmade products of many Canadian artists and artisans, all from the comfort and safety of your home. Think shopping on Etsy, but with curated quality all Canadian content.

First up is the HandMade Market show, which is running from September 10-13. The Handmade Market is also running shows in October, November, and December.

The second virtual craft market I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted to is by Freewheeling Craft. If you’re in the Ottawa region, you’re likely already familiar with these fabulous craft markets. They are still happening, but now virtually! There will also be workshops and panel discussions you can attend (virtually of course) as well as a DJ and music sessions!

I've added more details and links about these shows on the Shows and Events page.

So I fully appreciate that shopping an online virtual craft market is not the same as shopping at a craft show in person. There isn't the same level of engagement you get with the individual artisans, and you don't get to browse or touch, or smell or taste the items you may be shopping for. However, there are a lot of really good reasons to love this new approach to craft shows.

  1. They are super easy to attend. You don't need to be in the same location as the show and you can shop outside of the normal show hours on your own schedule.
  2. There are no crowds to wade through, since we are all avoiding crowds these days.This it makes it easy to browse all of the things without having to wait in line. 
  3. You don't need to wear a mask.
  4. You can wear your pajamas, or sweats, or whatever you are most comfortable in. In fact, you can attend naked, if that is your thing.
  5. You can sip your favourite beverage while you shop - coffee, tea, wine, gin - there's no judgment here!
  6. All of the artisans have been carefully curated by the show organizers, so you are guaranteed that the products offered for sale are of high quality by reputable sellers.
  7. It's a great opportunity to shop small, local/regional and Canadian from one online platform.
  8. Virtual markets also allow for artisans from different cities and regions of the country to take part in the market, since they don't need to physically be at show venue either. This gives  you an opportunity to be exposed to a wider variety of makers and their products that you might never have the chance to see otherwise.

I am looking forward to the day when we can all attend in person shows and markets again, but for now, this will have to do, and the show organizers that I am working with are doing a fabulous job to give you an excellent experience, even it is a virtual one.

So make a shopping date with your bestie, grab your favourite bevy and get on a FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom call and browse together. It can still be a fun experience - just a new kind of normal. 

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