FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Handmade Arcade to host its first-ever hyperlocal marketplace for makers living and/or working in Allegheny County.
Tricia Brancolini-Foley, Executive Director
Pittsburgh, PA—Following the success of its inaugural virtual marketplace this past December, Handmade Arcade is thrilled to announce the launch of its first hyperlocal marketplace for makers in Allegheny County. This virtual event, which will run from April 30 through May 2, provides a new opportunity for locally-minded shoppers to connect with and support the resilient makers who face incredible challenges in maintaining business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are responding to the very real and continuing distress of makers in our area,” says Tricia Brancolini-Foley, Executive Director of Handmade Arcade. “The pandemic has disrupted the infrastructure that allows independent creators to support themselves. Handmade Arcade is dedicated to helping makers weather this stressful period and ensuring that Pittsburgh has a robust creative economy once we get through this.”
Handmade Arcade has hosted the region’s most highly anticipated winter marketplace since 2004, attracting 10,000+ attendees, supporting 250+ makers, and hosting a large variety of hands-on activities. Since 2017, the organization expanded its focus to create engaging programming year-round to elevate, educate, and inspire the maker community in southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. By the end of 2019, the organization had established ongoing youth maker programming, launched Show and Sell, a smaller market focused on new and emerging makers, and was poised to realize the goal of offering impactful programming year-round in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the creative economy. With the unexpected loss of physical marketplaces, Handmade Arcade’s primary focus became meeting the maker community’s immediate needs. With support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Handmade Arcade created an evergreen virtual marketplace and maker curriculum to assist makers in pivoting to online sales. As a result of these efforts, the organization created a dynamic virtual marketplace that successfully mimicked the experience and energy of an in-person indie craft fair and connected makers with much-needed sales.
The Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace reached 23,000 users and garnered high praise from shoppers and makers alike for its ease of use, engaging immersive elements, and fun virtual events. By expanding the traditional one-day event to an unprecedented nine-day online maker fair, the organization was also able to add new virtual elements to highlight individual makers, invite discussion, and educate shoppers on crafting techniques.
“With the virtual marketplace this spring, we’re excited to build on the momentum and lessons of the holiday fair and continue to celebrate our local making community,” says Brancolini-Foley. “Pittsburgh has long been a hub of creativity, innovation, and community—and the pandemic hasn’t changed that. We are looking forward to another exceptional virtual event and the opportunity to uplift our friends and neighbors who make our world more beautiful, more funky, and more unique.”
The Handmade Arcade Spring Virtual Marketplace will feature up to 50 makers who live or work in Allegheny County. Applications are open until Sunday, February 21, and accepted vendors will be notified by Friday, March 12.