Handmade Arcade Markets

Details about the application process, important dates, fees, and more.

Handmade Arcade & Pittsburgh’s Maker Movement

Handmade Arcade Markets

Preparing Your Application

All Handmade Arcade markets are juried, curated markets. 

Handmade Arcade uses ArtCall.org as its application software. Each market application is assigned a market-specific URL shared via email, on Handmade Arcade’s website, and on social media. Vendors will first need to register for an account on ArtCall before applying. Note: the application site works best on a laptop or desktop. This site is not mobile-friendly.

Every application is carefully reviewed and voted on by our jurors. Handmade Arcade’s jury consists of the Handmade Arcade advisory committee and new and rotating guest jurors from Pittsburgh’s arts, craft, cultural, and small business communities. Jurors are paid for their time and expertise.

Every part of your application is essential for success: 

    • Images: We recommend using high-quality, high-resolution, clear, and in-focus photographs. Your product photography should bring out the best in your products, highlight the materials and methods used, and demonstrate originality, innovation, and the handmade process.
      • IMPORTANT: If you are reapplying, use this opportunity to show us something new. Do not use photos that you have submitted in the past.
  • Products and process description: A well-written description of your products and creative process is vital to your application.
  • Merchandise prices: Share your prices with us so we can ensure that your products are within the range of what our audience expects. 
  • Online presence: While it’s not required for makers to have an online presence to participate in Handmade Arcade markets, it is helpful for jurors to view e-commerce or social media accounts for more images and information. If you provide links to your website and/or social media accounts, they should be active and show a representative selection of your merchandise.
  • Contact information: Use an email address that you check regularly. Pro tip: double-check that you have spelled your email address correctly.

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Spring Market

The annual Handmade Arcade Spring Market provides a platform for new and emerging makers. Qualifying makers include artists and craftspeople who are relatively new to selling their products at large, in-person markets. This market is only for makers who have never participated in past Handmade Arcade markets.

Here’s what you need to know about the Spring Market:

  • The Spring Market is held on the second-to-last or last Saturday in April at Construction Junction. The date varies based on the calendar year. 
  • Construction Junction is the site of the first-ever Handmade Arcade market. They are a reuse building material warehouse located at 214 North Lexington Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208.
  • Applications open in January and close in mid-February. 
  • All applicants will be notified of their status (accepted, wait-listed, or not accepted) in mid-March. 
  • Once the application period closes, Handmade Arcade will not reopen it. If a vendor cancels, we invite a waitlisted vendor to take their place. No exceptions.

Fees: 

  • Cost to apply: $5
  • Cost to participate if you are accepted: $50

Pre-event Workshops:

Handmade Arcade hosts two pre-event workshops (either virtually or at Construction Junction in Pittsburgh’s East End) to walk new makers through the details of participating in an in-person market. The workshops are specific to this event and include information on setting up a booth display and a checklist of what to bring.

Market Details:

  • Makers must set up booths on the Friday before the event from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (The time range may vary slightly.) 
  • The market is open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Advertising happens through press releases, social media highlights, emails, and digital ads. 
  • Past events have had approximately 2,000 attendees.

Post-event Surveys:

After the event, makers must share information with Handmade Arcade by filling out a post-event survey, including their sales numbers. 

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Holiday Market

The Holiday Market is Handmade Arcade’s longest running and largest event. Consistently drawing approximately 10,000 shoppers each year, the Holiday Market features a wide range of makers from Western Pennsylvania and beyond. Due to its venue and highly engaged audience, the Holiday market hosts up to 250 makers each year.

Here’s what you need to know about the Holiday Market: 

  • The market is open on the first weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. (Dates vary).
  • The event takes place every year at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, at 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
  • Applications open early-to-mid June and close in mid-to-late August.
  • Applicants are notified of their status (accepted, wait-listed, and not accepted) usually in early-to-mid September.
  • Once the application period closes, Handmade Arcade will not reopen it. If a vendor cancels, we invite a waitlisted vendor to take their place. No exceptions.

Virtual Component

In addition to the in-person market, makers will receive a virtual listing on HandmadeArcade.org so attendees can browse makers and plan their shopping day. All participating makers will be required to update their virtual listing with instructions and guidance from the Handmade Arcade team.

Application Fee

  • Cost to apply: $20

Booth Sizes and Fees for Accepted Vendors: 

  • Standard Vendor Space: $300 (180 available)
    • In-person event 
    • 10-by-10-foot display space
    • One 8-by-2.5-foot table 
    • Two chairs
    • Load-in and load-out assistance from Convention Center staff
    • Endcap placement and electricity incur additional fees (see below)
    • Access to Handmade Arcade’s online maker curriculum and webinars
  • Expanded Vendor Space: $600 (20 available)
    • In-person event
    • 10-by-20-foot display space
    • Two 8-by-2.5-foot tables
    • Two chairs
    • Applicants must request an expanded space during the application phase
    • Spaces assigned on a first-come-first-served basis in order of payment received
    • Once full, accepted vendors can pay for a standard 10-by-10-foot space 
    • Load-in and load-out assistance from Convention Center staff
    • Endcap placement and electricity incur additional fees (see below)
    • Access to Handmade Arcade’s online maker curriculum and webinars
  • Craft Corridor Vendor Space: $150 (20 available) 
    • This space is reserved for:
      • Early-career makers who are new to selling at large in-person markets
      • Previous Youth Maker participants who have aged out of the program
    • Please note: If you are new to Handmade Arcade but not to vending at maker markets in general, you should apply for a Standard Table.
    • In-person event 
    • 8-by-8-foot display space 
    • One 6-by-2.5-foot table 
    • Two chairs
    • Load-in and load-out assistance from Convention Center staff
    • Pre-event coaching for emerging makers
    • Endcap placement and electricity incur additional fees (see below)
    • If unsure about eligibility, please email info@handmadearcade.org before applying
  • Additional Fees:
    • $65 electricity fee
    • $50 endcap request (i.e., the end of an aisle): A limited number of endcaps can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Refunds are given to anyone who made an endcap request that cannot be honored.

Market Details:

  • Friday
    • Makers must set up on Friday afternoon between 12 and 4 p.m. (Convention Center Teamsters are available to help).
    • Makers must participate in the Happy Hour Preview Party on Friday night.
      • Happy Hour Preview Party starts at 5 p.m.; makers must stay until the event ends at 7:30 p.m.
      • .The Friday Night Happy Hour Preview Party is an excellent opportunity to set up early, make some early sales, and meet and mingle with fellow vendors.  
  • Saturday
    • Vendors must be at their booths by 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning to prepare for the 9:30 a.m. Early Bird shopping hour.
    • Handmade Arcade will reserve a block of rooms at a reduced rate for Friday night and Saturday night at The Westin Convention Center.
    • Vendors may not leave or tear down their space until 7 p.m. without the express permission of Handmade Arcade’s executive director.

Post-event Surveys:

  • After the event, makers must share information with Handmade Arcade by filling out a post-event survey, including their sales numbers. 

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Who Does Handmade Arcade Accept?

Handmade Arcade is a juried, curated marketplace. Applicants’ products should be handmade, hand-crafted, or depict the artist’s original work. 

Applications should show:

  • Craftsmanship and creativity
  • Skill and technique
  • Traditional handicrafts combined with innovative thinking
  • Durability and functionality
  • Mindfulness and unique qualities (locally sourced, recycling, upcycling, etc.)
  • Crisp and clear photographs
  • Range of price points 

Categories include:

  • Accessories
  • Adult Clothing
  • Artwork
  • Bath & Body
  • Ceramics
  • Children’s Products
  • Glass
  • Housewares
  • Jewelry
  • Other
  • Paper Goods
  • Toys
  • Wood 

Mass-produced merchandise is prohibited at all Handmade Arcade events. Additionally, accepted vendors are NOT permitted to bring products from anyone not listed on their original application.

Note: Handmade Arcade was founded as an accessible alternative to fine arts markets. Historically, independent crafters, makers, and artists not considered fine artists do best at our events.

At this time, Handmade Arcade does not accept food vendors, including chocolates, honey, and candy. If you have specific questions regarding your products, please ask before you apply at info@handmadearcade.org.

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Sharing a Table (Applying with a Friend)

Handmade Arcade is dedicated to helping the maker community grow and flourish. If you’re interested in applying with a friend, we suggest you pair up with a maker whose work complements your own. It’ll give you the best shot at landing a booth in the bustling Holiday Market.

Spring Market: 

  • Because of the nature of the Spring Market, you cannot apply for the market as a shared table. 

Holiday Market: 

  • The holiday market application allows you to apply for a shared table. 
  • Co-applicants are reviewed as one entry. 
  • Images must represent both applicants’ products.
  • The primary applicant is notified by email.
  • In-person Marketplace: Makers will share the vendor space and be listed together on the event map. (e.g., Vendor 1 / Vendor 2)
  • All set-up needs for vendors sharing a space must be decided and planned between the vendors before the day of the event.

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Handmade Arcade & Pittsburgh’s Maker Movement 

Handmade Arcade is the spark that ignited Pittsburgh’s robust maker community. Predating all other local craft-focused markets, including national markets like Etsy, Handmade Arcade has been a leader in Pittsburgh’s maker movement long before the term “maker movement” existed—with early credits such as features in MAKE Magazine and hosting the country’s first-ever Craft Congress in 2007. 

Today, the organization operates as a nonprofit and continues to make significant, year-long contributions that directly impact Pittsburgh’s craft, maker, and arts community’s quality of life and economic success.

Between 2004 and December of 2021, Handmade Arcade has produced: 

  • 17 Holiday Markets, including free and reduced spaces for youth makers, new makers, partner organizations, demonstration and teaching artists, and others
  • 3 Spring Markets for new and emerging makers
  • 4 Virtual Markets to assist makers when access to in-person events disappeared during the pandemic
  • Hosted over 3,000 Crafters, Makers, and Artists at our markets and events
  • Welcomed over 120,000 shoppers who are ardent supporters of the shop small, local, and handmade ethos
  • Plays a significant role in the region’s creative economy with over $2 million in self-reported income from makers since 2016

Workshops and Professional Development:

Handmade Arcade offers a variety of workshops for all makers. With something for everyone, the maker curriculum covers the following topics: 

  • E-commerce Best Practices (Includes website review with an expert!)
  • Telling Your Story Online: Creating Compelling Content for Social Media
  • Product Photography
  • Marketing 101: Strategies and Best Practices
  • Customer Engagement and Retention
  • Holiday Events: Making the Most of a Gift Market
  • Booth Display

Youth Maker Opportunities:

Since 2016, Handmade Arcade has hosted:

  • 47 Individual Youth Maker Scholarship Recipients (ages 13 to 18)
  • 25 Entrepreneurial Classrooms (grades 3 to 12)
  • 10 Schools as Artist Demonstrators in our hands-on activity area at the Holiday Market

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