RIVESVILLE – Austin Towns normally travels around the country to sell his art and paintings, which are real objects composed of abstract colorful swirls.
While his normal customer base is scattered, on Saturday, he got the opportunity to sell his art to the people of his hometown of Rivesville, by attending a craft show in the town.
“I travel around from festival to festival,” said Towns, owner of Sleazy Arts. “I like doing the local things more just because it’s a different crowd than I normally would have.”
Towns has been selling paintings for about five years, he said, and he gets a lot of business around this time when many people are buying gifts for the holidays. He said craft shows help him to get his art and name out to people, and several other crafters at the show said the same thing.
“We have about 4 crafters and vendors today with food trucks outside,” said Cris Stewart, one of the coordinators of the craft show. “We decided ‘Let’s try it at the Community Building and see how it goes.’ It’s been a great turnout of people.”
Stewart said she worked
together with Noelle Kolb, owner of Assumption Records in the town, to kickstart this craft and vendor show, in part as an observance of Small Business Saturday. Although different people and groups have organized similar events in town, this is the first Christmas market to be planned by the town, and Stewart said it was an attempt to bring Rivesville crafters and business owners to the forefront.
“It’s just to try to showcase some of our small businesses,” Stewart said. “I’m a wood crafter and we love doing these small shows in Fairmont and Morgantown. We don’t have a business but we just run it out of the garage.”
Throughout the morning and afternoon Saturday, the Rivesville Community Building saw performers play songs for the shoppers and a visit from Santa Claus.
Making the craft fair a true event helped to spur interest in it, and the vendors present felt the benefits through the increased traffic throughout the day. Angie Taralla makes stained glass ornaments and decorations and said it is a medium best observed in person.
“They’re very important to get your name out there, the name of your company,” said Taralla, owner of Black Dog Studio WV. “I have a website, but if you don’t have the craft shows to show off; stained glass isn’t something you can see or feel online; unless you get your product out there for people to see, they don’t know what you have at all.”
Most of the business owners and vendors said their crafting is not their main source of income, but more of a hobby that grew into the chance to share their work. Being able to make a little extra money is a perk of crafting as well.
“I love art and repurposing stuff and I just started this,” said Melissa Basnett, owner of Handmade by Melissa. “I work full-time as a physician’s assistant, so I work a lot. I’ve been doing this like six weeks straight in all my free time.”
The items vendors were selling at the show Saturday ranged from paintings to decor to kitchen utensils. And the people manning just about every booth demonstrated that they have a passion for making whatever it is they were selling.
“I make what I like,” said Davina Burge-Crandall, owner of Basement Crafts Davina’s Creations. “I have more primitives, kind of what I like. Some people like it, some people don’t.”
Burge-Crandall added that sometimes, the shows don’t go as well as planned, but other times, her items are flying off the shelves.
“Everything I made from last year I took this year to my first craft show and it all sold,” Burge-Crandall said. “It’s just a bunch of different stuff, and it’s fun.”
While the opportunity allowed for a spike in business, the rest of December and the holiday season will likely remain busy for these artists. As Towns said, now is the time when he gets busier in commissions and sales, but also more productive bringing in more income.
“It’s way more productive, my commission goes up,” Towns said. “It helps me keep going throughout the rest of the year.”