The St. Louis Craft Mafia organized its fifth annual Green with Indie craft show on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The Green with Indie craft show (GWI) was free to the public and took place at the Webster University Grant Gym. With over sixty artists, sellers, and other vendors participating and sponsorship from companies and organizations like The Foundrie, KDHX, The Refind Room, Yelp, The Upcycle Exchange, and Verde Kids, the 2014 GWI showcased “green” arts, crafts, and other products for sale that are “earth-friendly, salvaged, upcycled, recycled, homegrown, homemade, revamped, or refurbished,” according to the event website.
This year’s GWI craft show was an enjoyable experience. Webster University’s Grant Gym was a space that worked well for the number of vendors and attendees from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The food trucks just outside of the event space were so popular that a number of well-liked items had sold out by the end of the show. KDHX provided the music during the fair, and a “craft yeti” wandered around the booths, apparently enjoying the crowd and atmosphere.
The vendors at the craft show were selected by a committee within the St. Louis Craft Mafia (STLCM). The goods included at GWI were required to be handmade or vintage, and with a “green” focus, explained STLCM CO-Organizer Rachel Shelton. “To us, green means using your resources wisely. We encourage our vendors to get creative and think about how to make trash into fabulous handmade treasure,” Shelton said. Some of the items on display and for sale at the show included mats woven from t-shirts, flannel scraps, and other recycled materials; jewelry made from materials like wire, roller chains, and bottle caps; ceramics; luminaries made created from upcycled cans; visual art; furniture pieces; and even ukuleles.
According to Shelton, STLCM also focuses on crafts that are “one hundred percent unique.” Walking around Grant Gym, visitors likely could not help noticing that the products at all the stands were striking. “We truly feel that handmade is a great alternative to mass produced. Handmade goods generate much less waste and are so much cuter. We are passionate about using local resources and putting our money back into our local economy.” Shelton also emphasized that a major goal behind the GWI is to educate and inform the public about products that are “green,” organic, and eco-friendly, and the benefit of such goods.
Displaying these types of items and giving people the opportunity to learn more, craft shows like the GWI allow each individual consumer to see the benefits and the beauty of “green” up close. And after attending the GWI, a question may come to mind: why aren't “green” crafts and products sold as commercially as the standard products that are currently in stores? Perhaps seasoned craft show attendees already know the answer. Maybe handmade items cannot be mass-produced quickly enough to fill shelves. A good argument could also be made for the preferable atmosphere of a craft show or fair. Another possibility is that the general public is already comfortable enough with the products and name brands that they’ve always known. It is, most likely, a complex question. Would St. Louisans like to see more local, organic, handmade, and/or “green” products widely available for purchase?
Shelton cites the high attendance at the GWI as a positive indication of the public’s interest in these types of products. She feels that “green” alternatives are indeed becoming “more and more available both at locally owned shops as well as larger more commercial stores.” Shelton encourages every individual to seek out “green,” organic, and local products if he or she prefers them.
Certainly, craft shows like GWI provide the market for such “green” consumerism, and are good resources for further information and ideas. According to Shelton, the STLCM is currently aiming for another Green with Indie craft show in March of 2015.