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General Manager Meg Graczyk at the Agape Shoppe, located in downtown Watertown. 

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Sackets Holiday Boutique gives crafters, independent vendors a venue

Crafters and independent consultant vendors may have a disadvantage when competing against businesses that invest in Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

“We don’t have a shop so we sell out of our homes,” said Brenda M. Jock Derouin, organizer of Sunday’s Sackets Harbor High School Holiday Boutique and an independent consultant for Thirty-One. “A day [for independent vendors and consultants] would be awesome, at a large location where everybody can get together; one-stop shopping.”

“That’d be great,” said Ashley Sharp, proprietor of Lucie’s Boutique, where she sells her hand-crafted sterling and fine silver jewelry. “Anything we can get to bring attention to ourselves would be good.”

Both women joined 25 independent consultants and sole traders to sell at the boutique. The event was a benefit for the Sackets Harbor PTO, and cans were collected for the school’s backpack program.

But this was also an opportunity for people to sell their goods before the sales race against established corporations and small businesses at the end of the month. Black Friday is Nov. 28, Small Business Saturday is Nov. 29 and Cyber Monday is Dec. 1.

For some vendors, the only way to get their wares out is to sell at craft shows. They can sell items through personal websites, such as Ms. Sharp’s www.luciesboutique.com, or through websites like Etsy, which promotes the sale of handmade or vintage items. But without the physical presence a craft fair provides, a website can take a crafter only so far.

According to Ms. Derouin, once school sports begin, it becomes harder to find a big facility that could accommodate enough vendors, especially during the holiday season, when most school gyms are being used for winter sports.

“This is a great time frame, but it’s difficult to get a school gym before winter sports. If you don’t have it before November, the chances of getting a gym is slim,” Ms. Derouin said.

However, the event was fortunate enough to draw shoppers from a basketball tournament held in the school’s gymnasium. The event was hosted in the school’s multipurpose room.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to get out and help local businesses and direct sales and crafters,” Ms. Derouin said of why people should spare a thought for local vendors during their holiday shopping. “It’s keeping money here; this is how it’s getting back into the economy.”

“I think it works out well,” Ms. Sharp said. “People can get personalized stuff. When something is handmade, you get something made exactly how you want it, like with names and birth dates. If you go to Sears, you have to get exactly what’s available.”

Items at craft fairs can range from holiday-themed decorations, body soaps and candles to everyday items like clothing, woodwork and jewelry.

Sackets Harbor will get a leg up on the corporate competition the weekend of Nov. 22 and 23. That Saturday will host Sackets Harbor Unchained, in which local businesses offer discounts and specials, and Sunday is the Community Vendors Expo at Sackets Harbor American Legion. For more information, visit www.sacketsharborny.com.

 

By Amanda Thomson-Tangalin, Times Staff Writer