We, dba Ted’s Woodshop, are getting ready for holiday craft fairs that will take place over the next two weekends. We look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends, some of whom we have only met online. The first event is the Peninsula Art Guild’s Kenai Arts and Craft Fair taking place Nov. 28-29 at the Kenai High School. The Kenai hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. With over 220 vendors, it is truly the place to be. The following weekend, Dec. 6-7, we will be at the Homer High School for the Homer Council on the Arts’ Nutcracker Faire. The Homer hours are 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Both fairs offer a great opportunity to support small local businesses and the local economy – and you won’t find a better variety of high-quality, handcrafted gifts. Neither venue charges an admission fee, parking is free and plentiful, and you would be amazed at the quality, workmanship, and creativity of the artists who are represented at the fairs.
We have been asked many times why we don’t have a booth at one or more of the larger holiday craft fairs in Anchorage. The truth is that Ted, in his small shop, can only turn out so many items. Each item is made by hand, one at a time. There is no mass production or replication involved. Putting the finish on each item takes days or weeks. Ted’s finish room is too small to accommodate more than one person at the bench so I’ve moved to the garage for my finishing work (various oil finishes, including Danish oil, tung oil, walnut oil, etc.) while Ted uses the finish room for his work with polyurethane. Add in pricing, labeling, inventorying, packaging, and posting items for sale on our website and it’s looking more and more like a “job” – and we’re retired for a reason!
Each year our goal is to have five or more new products for our customers. This year’s new items include:
- Pasta Servers and Shell Spoons
- Silicone Basting Brushes (in two sizes)
- Ball Bearing Spinning Tops (great fun!)
- Natural Edge Bowls (turned from walnut or alder)
- Wooden Goblets
- Segmented Turned Wooden Ornaments
We haven’t gotten to the point where we consider ourselves to be long-time vendors, but we have progressed well past the “newbie” stage. This is our seventh year for both fairs. I can truthfully say that fair vendors are among the nicest people you’d ever want to meet, and thanks to the kindness of our booth neighbors we quickly learned the ropes and figured out what works and what doesn’t. Thank you, Margaret Dubber, for taking us under your wing that first year in Kenai and giving us a crash course in how to get things done.
Although Ted has devoted the last 7 or 8 weeks to non-stop work in his shop, only in the past week have I gotten into the task of packing up all the items for the first of the two fairs. Each item has to be wrapped to protect the finish, then has to fit in some sort of box (plastic, shoe, cardboard – you name it, I’ll use it). Then all the boxes have to fit into large Rubbermaid totes. The trick is getting all of the totes, plus the tables, chairs, lamps, display stands, etc., to fit into the truck. If we have room for small duffel bags for our clothing and a thermos of coffee for the 80+ mile drive to Kenai, and can get the truck doors shut, we call it good and head out.
The Homer Nutcracker Faire the following weekend is a bit easier, in that we don’t have to leave town so if we forget something, we can simply go home and get it. Ideally, if we pack up all our items carefully at the end of the Kenai fair we don’t have to re-pack all the boxes and totes for the next weekend’s Homer event. Ideally. For some reason, we are nearly always the next-to-last vendor to get packed up at the end of the Kenai fair. People who are ceramic artists (potters) have the same issue that we do – you can’t just fold up your display, fling your items into a box, and go. Everything needs to be wrapped and boxed … and why is it that the same items that fit so perfectly when they were initially packed simply refuse to fit back in the boxes when it is time to re-pack them? Well, the solution is simple: Sell a lot, and you don’t have to take it back home.
We look forward to seeing our repeat customers at the upcoming fairs … and if we haven’t yet met you, stop by and say hello. At the Kenai high school Nov. 28-29, you can find us in our booth in spaces 139-140 in the glass hallway leading from the front entrance and auditorium commons area to the gymnasium. We’re across from the rest rooms. At the Homer high school Dec. 6-7, we will be in the gymnasium in space 78, right inside the doorway leading from the commons into the gym.
If you can’t make it to the Kenai or Homer fairs, shop online with us at www.tedswoodshop.com/store or stop by Ptarmigan Arts Gallery in Homer (471 E. Pioneer Avenue), open 10-6 starting Nov. 28.