BRISTOL, Tenn. - After fighting the crowds and craze of Black Friday shopping at the big department stores, Suzanne Tart and her niece decided to deck the halls at Viking Hall for the 30th annual Country Christmas Craft Show. "We decided that instead of going back to the mall, we'd come and support local business," she said.
The three-day event brings in thousands of seasonal shoppers and more than 100 vendors, including Gordon Mabie of Earth And Sea Design. He and his wife have been making jewelry out of sea glass and mountain stones for about eight years. "Each of us here at the craft has our own story to tell and particular interest," he said. "I really like talking to my customers."
Which is why Mabie said these types of in-person events are better than selling his products online. "You can't touch it online, you can't feel it online. Nor can you really explain it. Every piece has a description but you've got to know what you're looking at," he said.
He's been using webites like Etsy.com to sell his necklaces, rings and earrings. He said he's made about 15 to 20 sales in the past year online. However, during a craft show weekend, he makes about 25 to 30 sales.
"It's definitely different to see something online and see the quality in person because its not always portrayed online that way," Tart said. "But when you see it up close and get to feel it, it's so different."
Event organizers said the craft show isn't just a way to get holiday shopping done, it's also a way to support local vendors for Small Business Saturday. "There is a movement across the nation that if you shop on Friday at big box stores, support small businesses on Saturday," said Daisy Carroll. "Where else are you going to go and find over 100 small businesses under one roof that you can support?"
The Country Christmas Craft Show is open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Admission is $5, but children under the age of 12 are free.
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