The campuses of crafts schools often house a gift shop or a gallery where artisans who taught there, took classes or became known to the school sell their work. Often a school’s store is the only showcase in the area for refined American crafts, a place where potters, woodworkers, blacksmiths, weavers and other makers proudly present their goods for sale. Thankfully, we still have crafts stores in our towns and cities too. I believe we need to support our craft stores, both as consumers and as providers of quality work, so that their vibrant presence will remain in our community.
A good craft store is a great place for the professional or the recreational woodworker, someone who may or may not make a living out of his or her crafts. It is a setting to proudly expose/sell your pieces in your community and receive appreciation for your talent. Brick and mortar stores allow us to try out the work, see if it is comfortable to sit in or to hold in our hands, which is a totally different experience than an online store. Perhaps you, my reader, are very good at making cutting boards, toys, stools or benches, or you enjoy building birdhouses. Or perhaps friends praised the amazing feline observation shelves that you built for your cat. If this is the case, you might want to share your creativity with your fellow townies or the seasonal tourists who pass through during the summer. Go ahead and reach out to the local craft store and bring your enthusiasm for woodwork (and of course don’t forget the actual work) over to be selected by the store owner or their jury committee. I realize it can feel easier said than done. Putting your crafts out there to be judged by others is stressful, I know it from experience. But the chance that your creations will be displayed and hopefully get sold is a great motivator. It is one way of receiving acknowledgment for your skills and creativity. And, if your pieces are to sell, you’ll have some money to spend (for sure on more tools and woodworking stuff).
Good hand work that is priced correctly and presents itself at the right time will be the ticket for becoming a featured artisans in your local craft store. But venues for selling your craft can be found elsewhere too. You can try food co-ops (See a picture of crafts sold in my village’s co-op, below), artisanal food stores, or even your local coffee shop or bakery might be interested in what you make. In fact, wooden utensils such as bowls, spoons and cutting boards are a great character additive for these places. You will be surprised, but the owners of these establishments might benefit from hanging your elegant creations on their walls, or displaying them in a basket on the counter. It can be a powerful tool to distinguish their place from others by elevating its reputation and branding it as a cool place where one can walk inside, buy a cappuccino, a muffin, and even a beautiful cherry butter knife, or a cheese board too.
The store at Peters Valley is one of these wonderful craft stores and, while visiting, I took some pictures of the crafts that I think stand out.