In a state that boasts some of the coldest temperatures in the US and where a typical winter day involves trudging through a foot of snow, it becomes obvious why Minnesota is home to so many wonderful artists and crafters. Helping to support that talent as well as crafters that live beyond Minnesota’s borders, the No Coast Craft-O-Rama has gone from a small affair to one of the largest craft shows in the Midwest in just three years. This year’s show features over one hundred vendors (including over forty etsians!) and is expected to draw a crowd of over 8,000 shoppers.
So how did this little craft show become one of the largest in the Midwest? What goes into making a large craft show so successful and run smoothly? Kristen Himsl (kristenmary.etsy.com), member of Crafters Local 612 and cofounder of No Coast, was kind enough to take a moment out of her busy crafting and promoting schedule to answer some questions.
How and why did No Coast Craft-o-Rama get started?
No Coast Craft-o-Rama started because a bunch of Twin Cities crafters were craving a craft sale the likes of Bizarre Bazaar and Renegade, etc. These sales all seemed to take place in coastal cities and so we formed a group and named our sale with Midwest pride “No Coast Craft-o-Rama”. Tracy Parker of Pumpkin Girl was the one that really came forward and organized the group and got the ball rolling. We’ve had a few people come and go since then but maintain a good sized core group of volunteers. We wanted an identity as organizers so we decided on the name “Crafters Local 612” the 612 referring of course to the Minneapolis telephone area code.
How has the show changed in its short history?
The show began in 2005 with about 50 vendors at the Columbia Manor in NE Minneapolis. This was a smaller venue, off of a golf course- very cozy and had a fire place. I remember not knowing what to expect and we all agreed that if we got 500 people to come throughout the day that we would consider it a success. Well, the Star Tribune (the largest Twin Cities newspaper) ran an article about us a few days before the sale and we had over 2000 people through the door. Some of our vendors were nearly sold out by noon! The second year we anticipated as many people and tried to find a venue big enough to make sure 2000 people would be comfortable shopping. At the 2006 sale, we were blown away when we clocked over 8000 people coming through the doors. Now, our 3rd sale will be held at the same location, but with even more vendors and space in which to shop around.
What are some of the challenges of running a craft show? What are some of the rewards?
There are so many challenges and rewards to run a craft show, I know it helps to have such a great group of people to organize it. We basically work all year to put on the No Coast Craft-o-Rama. I would say the single most difficult and simultaneously rewarding part is choosing the vendors. We have so many amazing applicants that we want everyone to have a chance, but we need to keep a good selection of products as well as craft quality. It’s always exciting to see what new things vendors come up with each year, but it’s hard to have to tell some people “no”. It is really satisfying to be able to provide talented crafters a place to sell their items as well as to see the shoppers so happy at finding unique gifts.
What are you most excited about for this year's show?
Variety. This year we have more vendors than ever, and a lot of new people with crafts never seen before. I also think that shoppers are fed up with buying mass market toys for their loved ones only to have them recalled a few months later, and so we’re extra excited to feature some amazing vendors that craft high quality children’s toys and clothes.
Why was the Midtown Global Market chosen as the location?
Location is always a challenge when planning a craft sale. We never wanted to be the kind of sale that takes place in a gymnasium or a bland conference hall. The heart of our sale is Twin Cities pride so we want to help show off some amazing parts of the Twin Cities. Midtown Global Market has been a wonderful venue with a lot of space, and they have permanent food vendors from all over the world as well as a stage and seating areas so that shoppers can really make a day of it if they choose.
For more information please visit http://www.nocoastcraft.com
What: No Coast Craft-O-Rama
When: Friday November 30th 3pm-8pm
Saturday, December 1st 9am-5pm
Where: Midtown Global Market
Lake Street and Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
Admission is free