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Arts & Crafts Movement

November 2, 2010

This past Saturday (Oct. 30), the Fenton Street Market wrapped up for the season here in Silver Spring, Maryland. This outdoor market first popped up for a single shot last fall, then started a regular schedule in spring 2010. Each Saturday, small business folks have set up booths to sell their wares.

I’ve been impressed to see the market continue for a full season — spring to fall — and move into the new Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring. The new space is bigger and more fitting for the market, as it is less than a block away from the weekly Farmers Market. So now, customers can buy local artwork along with their apples and green beans. Farmers and crafters together at last!

More vendors were out on Saturday than I’ve seen in previous Fenton Street Market days, ranging from t-shirts, soap, paintings, photographs, prints, toys, jewelry, books, juggling sticks, and more. Click here to see a list of vendors.

My wife had a booth to sell antiques and collectibles, and I tossed in some paintings and Eggs and Bacon Skull t-shirts. She’s been at a handful of the market days this season. It’s been great to see her add to the local flavor of the community.

Also, we’ve met many entrepreneurs and artists who came out and joined the market on various days. So, yep, I’m glad to have an open-air market here in our town.

Earlier in October, the Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair (the 7th one, produced by the Washington City Paper) took over the Adams neighborhood in DC. In previous years, Artomatic has offered a month-long venue for visual artists, musicians, and performance artists. I don’t believe we’ve had an Artomatic in 2010, but I went to the one in 2009 when it was in a newly built office building a block away from the Washington Nationals stadium. I went with my two daughters, who enjoyed the sofa covered in bubble wrap and the finalists from the Washington Post Peeps Contest.

(I’m sure there are more arts and crafts fairs in the Washington, DC area, but these two come immediately to mind.)

These events are not very old. Artomatic started back in 1999. Crafty Bastards began in 2003. Now, Fenton Street Market joins the ranks, jumping on board in fall 2009.

And then there’s that constant arts and crafts fair: Etsy. This online marketplace started in 2005. It has grown by leaps and bounds: from $166,000 in sales of goods during the first year to $180 million in 2009. (Numbers from here). From January through September 2010, merchandise sales have totaled $206 million. (I calculated this by adding Etsy’s published statistics in their monthly Weather Reports.) You can see a few line charts at Handmade Spark showing Etsy’s sales and page views.

I was curious about Etsy’s growth to see the increasing popularity of handmade goods. Call it an indie craft movement or DIY movement or whatever — seems that more people are buying stuff from Etsy, and markets are out there for crafters to show their goods in the physical world. Hey, you can even sign a pledge to purchase handmade stuff at

As a freelancer, I’m surely biased toward pulling for small businesses and independent artists and creative entrepreneurs. They have imaginative creations, often using recycled goods and materials in unusual ways. It’s impressive to click through Etsy stores (and other artists’ sites) or walk through a market or a store carrying arts and crafts on commission. Yeah, because I nearly forgot about ArtSpring, our local store carrying handcrafted merchandise. Cool stuff.

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