Craft show venders have slow day

Several vendors at the annual Country Christmas Craft Fair said they enjoyed the annual fundraiser Saturday at Carson High School, but that sales there and at similar events are decreasing.

Some blamed competition from retail outlets, while others said there are just too many such fairs as the holidays approach.

One seller blamed an invasion of commercially produced merchandise at what are supposed to be markets for hand-made items for changing the public's expectations of craft fairs.

"We crafters don't appreciate that," Francesca Steffey of Gardnerville said as she packed up merchandise at the Creations by Francesca booth.

"We work all year handcrafting our gifts. Then we are competing against stuff made in factories overseas."

She said sales were less than at the same show last year, saying other factors were that the fair shut down at 4 instead of 5 p.m. and that a large craft show was going on at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

"But people who had been to the Reno show came in and told us they did not like it, because of all the commercial stuff in booths," Steffey said.

She said this is her third year at the Carson High show and that she is looking forward to a similar fair at Douglas High School in a few weeks.

Garland and Marion Francis of Dayton said stores like Wal-Mart, KMart and Longs Drugs are beginning to carry more craft-like items, which has affected their sales at the fairs. But they will continue to set up their booths at several shows at area high schools each year, for a reason very important to them.

"Why we like it is that it supports the schools. The money from booth rentals goes for activities, so we're happy to participate," Marion said.

Garland, who resisted the temptation to wear a red velvet suit to match the Santa-like beard he sports, said their Too Many Remnants booth has been at every Country Christmas Craft Fair since it started five years ago.

It would be better for them if it ran two days instead of just one, Marion said, a sentiment other vendors had expressed. But a seller across the aisle said she liked the one-day format because she wants to be in church on Sundays.

Ray and Shirley Lilly of Carson City spend much of their free time year-round making doll lamps with handsewn outfits and other crafts of their own design.

They said they only participate in six or seven shows a year themselves, but that it seems there are craft fairs somewhere nearby every weekend. So many shows reduces the demand for handmade gift items, Shirley said.

But they also said they are looking forward to the craft fair coming up at Douglas High, where they did well last year. And Ray said he appreciated that ROTC members from the high school were available to help with loading before and after the fair.

The fair is a project of the Carson High Parent Teacher Student Association and about 100 vendors filled the high school's gym and its lobby. The admission "charge" was an item of nonperishable food for a holiday food drive.


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