Vendors Unite to Prepare Community for Holidays
December has officially hit the calendars and, while the snow threatens to fall, it is now time for the never-ending holiday shopping. For those looking to check some items off their shopping lists, urban craft shows are the place to go. From her previous experiences of vending at craft shows across the state, event organizer Michelle Guehrer found inspiration in bringing her ideas to the Fox Valley by establishing her own urban craft show called ‘Handmade for the Holidays’.
“Starting out at a young age, I couldn’t find shows that fit my type of crafting,” she said. “I started vending at a few shows in Madison, one that was at a bar that was closed and they had live music as well as food and drinks. It was a unique setting and I fell in love with the concept. I decided to start my own version of an urban craft show and that is where I came up with the idea of ‘Handmade for the Holidays’.”
Located in Oshkosh’s City Center, ‘Handmade for the Holidays’ has continued the tradition of providing a shopping experience for those looking to start their holiday shopping early. The event includes a variety of different vendors with products ranging from handcrafted hats and scarves to items made from secondhand materials.
“‘Handmade for the Holidays’ is an annual event that I have been running the past eight years,” Guehrer said. “This year we had almost 40 vendors as well as live music and photos with Santa.”
Not only do craft shows bring the community together in order to support the vendors and artists at the show but, according to Guehrer, they allow a perfect opportunity to support local businesses.
“Craft shows like ‘Handmade for the Holidays’ benefit our community because you are supporting a local artist,” she said. “A lot of us buy our supplies locally, shop locally, and therefore the money tends to come full circle back to the community.”
When it comes to giving back to the community, photographer Christine Anderson believes that it is important to keep those who are less fortunate in mind this holiday season.
“We decided to donate funds to the ‘Day by Day Warming Shelter’ because once winter comes, those that are homeless really have nowhere to go,” she said. “Being cold on the street is very dangerous and it is important to make sure that those without a home this season have a place to go.”
The “Day by Day Warming Shelter” is a local organization benefitting those in need of shelter and support around the Oshkosh community.
“On average, the shelter has about 28 people per day that they are housing, so it will go towards that while also going towards the construction for a larger facility for those in need of a place to stay,” Anderson said.
In order to raise funds for the organization while continuing annual tradition, Anderson and Guehrer recruited Santa to take pictures with children and families attending the event. Instead of free pictures like previous years, the cost of the picture was five dollars. Because 100 percent of the proceeds went to benefitting the shelter, Anderson believes that people were more encouraged this year to get their pictures taken with Santa.
“Last year I had about 30 people come and do photos, and I did them for free, but this year I actually charged for pictures to be taken with Santa and it went to something and I ended up raising $365. It is such a great thing to see the community give back,” she said.
With all of the support that the event and the shelter received this year from the community, Anderson could not be more pleased with the turnout.
“This year was outstanding,” she said. “Between the Local 5 Live interviewing Michelle and the advertising done around town, there was a great amount of awareness not only for this event but for the ‘Day by Day Warming Shelter.”
Not only is it important to ensure there is awareness for the event, but it is also necessary to keep in mind all of the hard work that the vendors have put into making these shows possible, according to Guehrer.
“In today’s world made up of mass production, it is important to appreciate handmade items and local businesses. It is really neat to hear the story behind the different artists that attend these events and just connect with their passion for handmade,” she said.
For second year event attendee Lisa Nigl, she believes that the community is able to find a way to come together and support one another through craft shows.
“Events like ‘Handmade for the Holidays’ are important because they unite the community,” she said. “Community members are able to support the vendors and the vendors offer one of a kind, unique products. It is truly a win-win.”
While supporting vendors and shopping for unique products at this event, Nigl believes that urban craft shows like ‘Handmade for the Holidays’ provide for great opportunity for partnerships to be established within the community as well.
“I think it’s important to give back to the community because partnerships in the community make the community a great place to live,” she said. “Our community provides us with so many great, free events and it is nice to support one another when we get the chance.”