Shawnee Mission West junior Aidan Hall is launching a virtual craft fair this weekend for local makers like himself. As the owner of KC Handmade Goods, he wanted to create an outlet for vendors to sell their goods safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virtual craft fair begins today, Nov. 6, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 8, at kclocalcraftfair.com. From there, customers can see listings of vendors participating in the virtual fair.
“I’ve been working hard on this, and I’m just super excited to see how it turns out, and I really hope the community likes it as well,” Hall said.
A Lenexa native, Hall has been running his own business for the past three years. He started out making wallets from duct tape and selling his products at the Lenexa Public Market. With successful wallet sales, he now pours profits back into the business. He bought a die cutting machine to make new products, including vinyl decals, T-shirts, keychains and now face masks.
But since the economic shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, Hall has had trouble making those personal connections with new customers, which are a vital part of his business. The Lenexa Public Market had briefly shut down, and craft fairs this year were canceled. He needed an outlet to lock down the holiday sales he normally gets at the end of the year.
“I’ve noticed everyone’s really had a hard time, and the whole theme of this whole pandemic has been getting through it together, so creating an outlet for other people as well is the intention,” Hall said.
Starting in August, Hall began collaborating with Lenexa Public Market staff to connect with the vendors, who are all from the greater Kansas City area. Hall noted that many of the 44 vendors at the virtual craft fair are offering fair-exclusive discounts.
“Honestly, I was really hoping to be able to break 10 for this, so I’d say I like going out on a limb for different events, and I’ve been successful in the past, but I really didn’t know how this would be received by other vendors,” Hall said. “I’ve been very surprised and very humbled by it.”
Hall said he hopes local shoppers will virtually come out to support him and his fellow vendors this weekend.
“During the pandemic, we’ve all realized how much small businesses sustain our community through jobs and really community outreach events, etc.,” he added. “They’ve supported us, so it’s our time to support them.”