KC Local Virtual Craft Fair organized by SM West junior returns Friday — how to shop for handmade products

KC Local Virtual Craft Fair

The KC Local Virtual Craft Fair returns for second time this weekend. Nicole Collins of Collins Custom Designs is one of 28 vendors participating this time around. Collins sells jewelry crafted from metal and precious stones. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

SM West junior and Lenexa business owner Aidan Hall is bringing back a virtual craft fair a second time in order to lift up local makers like himself amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

After a well-received run at his first fair in November, Hall heard from several participating vendors who wanted another go.

So, the three-day KC Local Virtual Craft Fair returns this Friday, April 9, going through Sunday, April 11.

Hall said he was “super surprised and excited” by the increase in web traffic and web sales from many of his vendors, as well as social media engagement for the fair.

“It was very nice to see my vision kind of turn into a reality,” Hall said.

This spring’s craft fair features 28 local vendors from the Kansas City metro area and Johnson County, including makers based in Overland Park, Lenexa and Olathe. Most of them are new; 10 vendors from the first fair are returning.

Supporting local

Hall’s ultimate goal is to continue bringing the fair back on a regular basis, perhaps in person in time for the winter holidays later this year.

The bottom line: he wants the fair to be an opportunity for shoppers — both here and online across the country — to support Kansas City local makers and businesses.

“A lot of these businesses have been struggling for about a year now; a lot of them are holding on by a thread,” Hall said. “It’s just important to continue to give that support that we’ve been showing them for a while now, and keep them in our communities. And really, when you’re shopping local, you gain that personal connection that you lack when you’re supporting a large business that’s already getting millions of orders.”

SM West junior Aidan Hall launched his first virtual craft fair in November 2020. He hopes shoppers will participate in this fair to help support local businesses like his.

One such vendor returning to the fair is Collins Custom Designs, a jewelry creations and repair shop in Overland Park.

Nicole Collins, owner of Collins Custom Designs, works mostly in sterling silver as well as brass, copper, aluminum, gold and precious stones.

Collins said she noticed “a definite increase” in web traffic from the last fair and hopes to keep getting her name out there a bit more. Word of mouth is her biggest advertisement, she says.

“Last year was a tough one just because of COVID,” she added.

For Collins, who grew up in Leawood and graduated from SM East, supporting local is not only beneficial but vital for communities to thrive.

She saw this firsthand through her work as a jeweler for nearly 20 years at Jewelry Arts in Corinth Square before it closed in 2019.

“It’s super nice to support your neighbors and your local businesses because it helps them directly instead of helping the big box stores,” Collins said. “It’s just nice to help out someone you know who has a family, and you’re helping them do things for their children, and just survive through this pandemic.”

How to shop

Shoppers can get a head start on browsing and shopping by checking out the craft fair’s website or at the fair’s Facebook event page.

You can buy items from vendors’ Etsy pages or directly from their websites.

Deals and giveaways related to the craft fair start Friday and last through Sunday.

Participating vendors include: