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‘Tis the season for gifting unique and beautiful goods — while supporting local talent in the process.
On Saturday, December 2, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the Handmade Arcade Holiday Market returns as the region’s largest event of its kind (last year, the event drew more than 11,000 shoppers), bustling with joyful activity and getting local folks in on the season’s festivities.
“With over 275 makers, including established artists, youth makers and members of the new BIPOC maker accelerator,” says Executive Director Tricia Brancolini-Foley, “you will be awed and inspired by the region's robust and talented maker community.”
Shoppers will delight in finding original handmade goods ranging from sustainable clothing and accessories to one-of-a-kind art, innovative home décor offerings and decadent body products, too.
The event stretches far beyond a mere shopping extravaganza, thanks to live demos, hands-on activities and free make-and-take crafts as well. Families will be able to pick up tips from mesmerizing screen printers, glass blowers, and painters and potters, before perusing the vendors’ colorful wares.
Register for free tickets to the Saturday market here. Or, for crowd-free shopping and exclusive giveaways, purchase tickets to the Friday Night Happy Hour and Early Bird Shopping Events. (The David L. Lawrence Convention Center concession will be open for snacks and dining throughout.)
Brancolini-Foley loves that this affair showcases the creativity and brilliance of artists and creators of all ages. “Nowhere else in southwestern PA will you find this large of a selection of handmade goods that are carefully curated for quality and craftsmanship,” she shares.
“Over the past 19 years, the Holiday Market has become a cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s holiday season and a crucial event that helps keep regional makers in business.”
Pro Tip: Starting Monday, Nov. 20, attendees can view the virtual catalog on the Handmade Arcade website.
Exciting additions for this year? Handmade Arcade is thrilled to host 13 individual youth makers, one scout troop, youth makers from Protohaven’s youth maker camp and nine maker classrooms from schools across the region. “The event also features the first group of makers from the BIPOC Maker Accelerator, a program that launched earlier this year in partnership with Sustainible, a woman, minority and immigrant-owned startup in Pittsburgh,” Brancolini-Foley says.
Supported by Neighborhood Allies, she adds, this exciting new program aims to uplift historically underrepresented BIPOC makers, craftspeople and artists in the region’s maker ecosystem. For this pilot program, they narrowed the selection of 35 applicants down to five. The makers were reviewed by a jury of established makers and artists within Pittsburgh’s creative community.
“The accelerator program will create significant business-building opportunities for five BIPOC entrepreneurs,” Brancolini-Foley explains. “By blending Sustainible’s business and entrepreneurial expertise with HA's ability to create real-world experiences and exposure for participating makers, the accelerator program will address inequity within the region’s maker community, teach practical business knowledge to create sustainable BIPOC-owned maker, craft or arts businesses that will spur economic development and celebrate BIPOC excellence and creativity. The accelerator program will improve participation makers’ market confidence and support business growth.”
Brancolini-Foley shares that both HA and Sustainible believe that makers, craftspeople and artists should be able to make a living from their hard work, talent and craft. To address that, the accelerator program took a hands-on approach, ensuring the makers leave the program with a comprehensive knowledge of how to make intelligent business decisions, have insight into their business's development and growth capacity, and interact successfully in-person and online — ultimately creating customer engagement and retention.
We chatted with a few of the market’s participating artists like Raymont Youngblood, the owner of RaiZArts. A digital freelance illustrator who specializes in “anime-style” art and design, Youngblood has not participated before this year. As an illustrator, he’ll be selling prints of his artwork, as well as stickers. “All of the designs were created by me, and I even have some new designs in store for the market!” he says.
Earlier this year, Youngblood met Brancolini-Foley at a meet-and-greet at Everyday Cafe in Homewood. Here she talked about the amazing event, and strongly encouraged him to participate. “I’m so glad that I did,” Youngblood says, “as Tricia and her team work really well with the other makers to make our small businesses successful.”
According to Youngblood, Pittsburgh is an amazing place that takes its arts and art disciplines very seriously. “Being able to show my work and build my brand within the city is important to me because it shows people who look like me that a career in the arts is very possible,” he says.
“I can truly create an impact just by being present and available at events, and offer any support that I can to younger up and coming artists as well.”
Artists Myles Geyman and Heather Connolly of FortPittClayWorks design and create porcelain, Pittsburgh-centric home goods. From mugs to serveware, all of their original products are designed and produced right here. They have been vendors at Handmade Arcade for the past decade.
“[This] is our favorite market of the year,” says Connolly. “The vendors are top-notch, and there are so many unique products to shop. It’s a great market to find those extra special holiday gifts!”
The duo feels it’s important to participate since this gathering has become a Pittsburgh tradition. “Handmade Arcade gives us an opportunity to connect with other makers and the shoppers that support small businesses,” says Connolly. “We love connecting with friends and past customers each year!”
Tips for a first-time attendee? Brancolini-Foley advises: “Make sure you register for free, timed tickets for easy entrance to the holiday event. You can visit our FAQ page for directions, parking information and more.”
Happy shopping — and connecting!
Friday Night Happy Hour (Sponsored by Una Biologicals)
Friday, Dec. 1, 5–7:30 p.m.
Meet the makers in an intimate setting, browse the market before anyone else, and support Handmade Arcade’s year-round programming.
What to expect:
Early Bird Shopping (Sponsored by Pip & Lola’s Soaps & Sundries)
Saturday, Dec. 3, 9–11 a.m.
This newly extended Handmade Arcade fan favorite event allows shoppers to browse in an intimate setting. Meet the makers, ask questions, and support our year-round programming!
What to expect:
The Main Event
Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Tickets: Free timed tickets
Come to be inspired, and leave with distinctive handcrafted products you won’t find anywhere else! Surprise and delight your loved ones with holiday gifts as unique as they are. You’ll find everything from sustainable clothing and accessories to one-of-a-kind art, innovative home décor, decadent body products and much more.
What to expect: