Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Handmade baby blankets sit on display in booth No. 13 near the entrance of Hardin’s new Creative Collections Crafter’s Mall. The crafter’s mall showcases local artisans’ work, assisting them with retail management as a professional business.

Crafter’s Mall offers new selling options for local artisans

Those searching for the assorted sweets and baked goods of Hardin’s Oh’s Bakery will now find themselves in the presence of a crafter’s showroom, filled with the work of Hardin-based artisans. 
The Creative Collections Crafter’s Mall offers artists the option to showcase their work in a year-round showroom. For crafters starting a business, most have difficulty promoting, selling and keeping records of their own products. 
Rufus Coomer opened the first craft mall in 1988 in Azle, Tex. The store, still open today, is now a local landmark and has expanded to 35 stores across the United States, servicing more than 6,000 crafters and paying out more than $2 million a month.
With a crafter’s mall, crafters are able to sell their work daily without the need to be present, benefiting from promotions, advertising and security of a professional retail business. 
Apart from malls in the usual sense, the crafting outlet is an individual store that showcases local, handmade work from pottery to jewelry and repurposed items within floor or wall space rented by the crafter. The owner, Pamela Dill manages all aspects of the business, handling retail and management duties for local crafters.
“Most of our products are handmade, but there are some sellers who order products to retail,” Dill said. “You don’t have to be a crafter to rent space, but we don’t want flea market-type items; I don’t want it to really look like a yard sale.”
The crafter’s mall officially opened Oct. 15 and, according to Dill, has seen a steady increase of curious customers since. A ceremonial ribbon cutting is currently being planned and has not yet been scheduled.
“I was interested in crafter’s malls about 20 years ago, but I never thought I’d do one,” Dill said. “I bought the bakery and couldn’t make it go, so I had to put something in here and I thought, ‘Why not revisit that old dream and see if it works here?’”
“Hardin is a small town and sometimes it’s hard for a business to make it here,” she continued. “But, I thought, with the combined efforts of everybody, along with food, we can all go into a co-op here.”
Dill has planned a crafting room for artisans to work on-site. She also plans to reopen the kitchen portion of the bakery and create a crafter’s club, where members can meet once a month for food and crafting.
For more information on the crafter’s mall, contact Dill at (406) 665-1133 or visit the Creative Collections Crafter’s Mall Facebook page.