Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


November 28, 2011

Crafters spread word of locally made products

GLASGOW — In honor of the nationwide Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26, a group of local artisans organized a Small Business Saturday craft show at Columbia Avenue Church of Christ in Glasgow that featured locally-made crafts, accessories and baked goods.

The craft show featured eight local artisans, and it was organized by three women who have been involved in the Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market, Stacy Smith, Sarah Shirley and Tiffany Gillespie.

“This is a weekend where there’s not a lot for people to do except to go to the mall, and we wanted to provide an alternative,” said Gillespie, who was selling her homemade soaps, lotions and lip balms.

Supporting local businesses instead of the “nameless, faceless they” of the large retail stores is more beneficial to local economies, Smith said, and buying homemade goods at craft fairs like Glasgow’s Small Business Saturday event gives consumers the opportunity to meet the people who made their product.

“With this, the people you’re buying it from are actually the people who made it,” said Smith, who knits scarves, purses, hats and other accessories.

When another craft show was canceled, Shirley said, she, Smith and Gillespie wanted to create another craft show to fill its spot, and it worked out that they could also use it as a way to bring Small Business Saturday to Glasgow in a significant way. Saturday’s show only included eight vendors, but choosing the right vendors and creating the right atmosphere was important, said Shirley, who sews purses, bags and aprons.

“We kind of wanted it to stay small,” Shirley said. “We wanted to be choosy about who to include, and make sure we were including quality vendors who make all their own products.”

This year’s vendors included Shirley, Smith, Gillespie, Tom and Lori Blumenberg with their wooden bowls and burnings, jewelry maker Debbie Kantosky, bladesmith and woodworker Chad Lewis, John and Joellen Tubbs with baked goods and homemade baskets and Lisa Bale, who makes jewelry and decorations.

The local movement is very important not only for local economies, but for the local people, Bale said.

“It fosters a certain level of community and friendship and all of those things that make Glasgow great,” Bale said.

On the artisan side, it’s also very important to encourage others to make things by hand, according to Kantosky.

“I love to see people crafting,” Kantosky said. “I’m really pleased with this young man (Chad Lewis), 16 years old, and he’s actually crafting. It’s becoming a lost art. There’s a real satisfaction in doing things with your hands.”

Lewis, a home-schooled high schooler whose parents own Stony Creek Farms, said he grew up with an appreciation for how important it is to make things for yourself.

“My whole life I’ve worked and if you want something, you make it,” Lewis said.

Building the local movement is important for the nation as a whole, Lewis said, because he believes the U.S. could be sustainable if it tried. But with the current mindset and all the big companies shipping jobs overseas to China, the United States is now dependent on others.

Small Business Saturday, and particularly the craft show in Glasgow, is an important opportunity to make local small businesses visible, Tom Blumenberg said.

“Small businesses don’t usually have their own stores,” Blumenberg said. “This was a nice way to get out and have a place to set up and join in.”

Each of the vendors have their own stories about why they started making things by hand. Some, like Lewis, grew up on farms and have always been taught the value of being sustainable. Others, like Smith, saw people around them making interesting things and decided they wanted to learn. However they started, it brought them into the local movement and the south central Kentucky network of artisans and growers. John and Joellen Tubbs started with their Metcalfe County farm that grows blueberries and asparagus, but widened their interests simply as a way to fill the time while waiting for the crops to grow.

“We started baking as an interim money-maker and it has grown and grown and grown like yeast,” Joellen Tubbs said.

Joellen and John Tubbs have both built upon the local network of artisans and growers because they value the buy local movement.

It’s a lot of the like-minded people who want the fresh local stuff. ... We try to promote the local growers,” Joellen Tubbs said.

While they wanted to keep it small this year, the three organizers said they are already planning to expand the event for next year.

“We’re already talking about what we can do to make it better next year, what we can do to improve it next year,” Smith said. “So hopefully this will be an annual event in Glasgow.”

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express, as a locally-focused counterpart to Black Friday. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear declared Nov. 26 to officially be Small Business Saturday in Kentucky as well.

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