Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace FAQs

Did you miss the informative webinar about the Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace? No worries! We have you covered.

We are doing our best to communicate the plans for the Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace. If you missed the sessions or were unable to attend, below, you will find detailed information on the topics covered during the meeting AND the answers to the participants’ questions.

If your question is not answered below, please contact Handmade Arcade at info@handmadearcade.org.

Click here to open  the PDF of the presentation give by Handmade Arcade’s executive director. The below information contains more details and information than the slides presented.


    • Opens on Saturday, November 28
    • Closes on Sunday, December 6
    • Nine days of shopping that includes SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY and CYBER MONDAY
    • Applications are closed
    • Applicants notified on Friday, September 25, 2020
    • Payment for participation in the virtual marketplace is due NO LATER THAN Friday, October 23, 2020


  • Accepted Vendor Fee: $150

Capitalize on holiday sales: Launching on Small Business Saturday, the Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace will include Cyber Monday and continue through Sunday, December 6, encompassing the peak of the 2020 holiday shopping season.

Maker Curriculum: Accepted vendors will receive access to a free maker curriculum, with webinar topics such as e-commerce, social media best practices, customer service, marketplace prep, etc.

More than an Online Store: Nine-days of interactive experiences and customized content, including hands-on demonstrations, behind-the-scenes studio tours, Meet the Maker Q&As, etc.

Grow your customer base: Vendors can still form real, authentic relationships with customers via dynamic and customized virtual content safely from home. Reach new fans and followers as shoppers will connect directly with vendors via a multi-layered search function.

Advertising and Press: A substantial digital advertising campaign supports the virtual marketplace. Past events and vendors have been covered widely by the Pittsburgh City Paper, the Post-Gazette, KDKA, BuzzFeed, Condé Nast Traveler, Pop Shop America, and many more.

Handmade Arcade has hired local design and development firm IMAGE BOX to develop a customizable, interactive, immersive visual marketplace.

What does this mean?

VENDOR CUSTOMIZATION: Each maker will receive a password protected page that will be populated by the maker.

  • IMPORTANT DUE DATE: There will be a hard deadline for getting content into the website. Accepted vendors will receive a list of content to collect and prepare with their acceptance letter.
  • The final date to add content to the marketplace will be determined as the work on the customs website nears completion. It may be a quick turn-around. Getting your content ready ahead of time is KEY!

REUSABLE RESOURCE: The website is being created and programmed with longevity in mind. We will be able to reuse the marketplace at any time for small or large events. All future in-person events will host a virtual marketplace alongside it to maximize sales.

MULTI-LAYERED SEARCH FUNCTION: Much like big box stores, users can search the website with a multi-layered search function. When vendors add their images into the site, they will tag them with a predetermined list of keywords to maximize their findability within the database.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Vendors will need to prepare their custom content ahead of the virtual event. Because we are building the site this fall, you will need to be ready with the content to upload it quickly. Accepted vendors will receive a checklist of content prepared and saved. The content will include:

  • Up to 10 product images (with links – links can go directly to that item in your online store, to the homepage of your store or a social media site)
    • Vendors should tag their images with predetermined terms so that items show in user searches.
  • Up to 10 images showing creative process, production, inventory, displays and/or studio space (with links)
  • Business logo and maker headshot (with links)
  • Links to e-commerce websites and social media accounts
    • Do you have to have an e-commerce site or a rich social media account to participate? NOPE! That is why we are creating a maker curriculum. Visit the maker curriculum section for more information.
  • Narrative text about the maker/business
  • Brief introductory video from the maker, mimicking an “elevator picture.” We envision a video of what you would say to someone as they walked up to your booth in the in-person event. It can consist of a “Hello, my name is XX XX. I am an XXXX maker. Thank you for checking out my page.” (OPTIONAL)

We want you to succeed! We intend to help you get there by developing a technical assistance curriculum along with Pittsburgh’s Creative Business Accelerator.

All applicants will receive a link to “Getting Started: Designing the Best E-Commerce Solution for Your Business,” a 30-minute webinar with downloadable supplemental content.

This webinar will be sent to all applicants after the applications close on September 7

Webinar topics to help you prepare will include:

  • Beyond a Web-Presence: Utilizing Your E-Commerce Site as a Fully Functioning Store
  • Let Your Website Work for You: Understanding SEO and Other Analytics to Increase Conversion
  • Strategies for Stellar Product Photography on a Budget
  • Telling Your Story Online: Creating Compelling Content for Your Website and Social Media
  • Inventory Preparedness
  • Best Practices for Customer Engagement and Retention
  • Social Media Strategies and Best Practices
  • Marketing and Sales Strategies for the Virtual Marketplace
  • Introduction to HA’s Virtual Marketplace

Our mission is to connect creatives with consumers. We recognize that the user/audience experience is key to everyone’s success.

We are carefully building the virtual marketplace with ease of use, easy to follow navigation and accessibility in mind.

NINE days to shop from a community of talented makers, designers, artists, and crafters at the beginning of the 2020 holiday season.

An easy to navigate virtual marketplace featuring:

  • Multi-layered search, filter and sort function
  • Ability to mark artists as favorites

We will recreate interactive experiences through pre-recorded video and live streaming events EACH DAY of the marketplace.


  • Behind-the-scenes studio tours
  • Hands-on demonstrations and tutorials
  • Meet the Maker Q&As
  • Special giveaways and offers
  • Online raffles
  • Crafty discussions and more

We will use our known platform for supporting Pittsburgh’s creative economy to boost sales and online shopping from YOU this year.

Our advertising and marketing campaign focuses on the importance of supporting small businesses. The idea that money spent on local arts, crafts, and maker businesses will further help small businesses than an order placed from a large online retailer.

Our budget to market the event is extensive. We intend to market and advertise FAR outside our normal scope of Western PA to help you grow your customer base!

How will you teach the users/customers how to use/navigate the virtual marketplace?

There will be a VIRTUAL WELCOME TENT, which will mimic the welcome table at the in-person event. This area will have videos and instructions on how to use the website.

Regarding the ability to user/customers to mark favorites:

  • Will shoppers have to log in to remember their saved items?
    Yes, favorites will only be able to be saved by creating a log in (account).
  • Will participating vendors be able to see who marked them as favorites? If yes, will vendors be given that user’s contact information?
    At this time, the functionality of the website does not include this option. Handmade Arcade will address this with the company developing the website because we are developing stages. If we can add this functionality without adding too much cost or added time to the project, we will do it.

Will you run a raffle of donated items/gift cards?

Yes, we will run a raffle during the marketplace, similar to running the raffle at the in-person marketplace. We will take pictures of each item from a basket. The upside to doing a virtual raffle is that we will post the items to our social media accounts and the website. We will tag makers’ social media accounts and link them to their pages within the virtual marketplace.

Regarding the Maker Curriculum

  • Will the initial Maker Curriculum have any one-on-one feedback/mentoring?
  • Will there be any forum for meeting/supporting each other?
    At this time, we are not sure if we will have the capacity to do this. Handmade Arcade will discuss this possibility with the Creative Business Accelerator and see if we can develop a plan for folks who need this extra help.Another option would be to create a private Facebook group (as we have done in the past) and encourage more established makers to offer advice or mentoring. Another idea would be to ask industry professionals who support the maker community to participate in the group to help answer questions.We will encourage makers to participate in their Facebook group participation this year and lean on each other for help.

Will there be any conflict with participating in another virtual market running part of the same time? 

No. Please participate in as many shows as you possibly can and have the best year possible so we can see you back in 2021. We encourage everyone to apply to various virtual marketplaces.

HA virtual will be competing directly with Etsy. How are you planning to get your customers to try HA instead of going with what they know?

Accepted vendors of the HA Virtual Marketplace have to provide handmade creations. We are proud of our history of presenting well-curated, quality-made items. The virtual marketplace will be no different. We are here to provide support to the regional maker community. Our site will help focus and expand on our brand of supporting handmade items. If you use Etsy as your e-commerce site, we support you and will link to your Etsy site from our marketplace. 

Thoughts on making a podcast of interviews with makers?

We love the idea of an ongoing podcast but will at least have podcast-style interviews. It’s a great idea and on the list of things to explore for the future!

Will you offer a list of other markets?

Yes, we will be sharing a comprehensive list of opportunities via our email list so you can look into other market opportunities.

How many artists will be accepted?
We plan to host mo more than 150 makers. The final number may be lower depending on the number of qualified applicants.

Will the number of vendors for the virtual market be the same as the in-person one?

No. We have capped the market at 150 makers – this includes those who are juried in and sponsors. We are getting fewer applications than we have in the past. If you feel comfortable with our plans and need help getting online, we will help you get there before November 28. If you are newer, this is a great year to apply, and we will help you get ready. We want makers to survive! Our goal is to support you.

Is there a limit to the number of tags we can add to each photo?

We will provide a predetermined list to accepted makers; as a maker, you will not be able to select your verbiage/tags per image. We are not sure if the number of tags will be limited.

Will the interface be mobile friendly as well? 

The virtual marketplace will be responsive – meaning it will work across all device screens and types.

Do you have to live in Pittsburgh or PA to participate?

No, the Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace will accept makers from across the country with a preference given to local makers when possible.

How will you be selecting which makers to feature in daily specials/walkthroughs/sales, etc.? 

In the past, featured artists have been arbitrarily selected (IG feature). We are not sure how we will choose makers to highlight. We will consider this question and come up with a fair process.

Should uploaded inventory images be ready to deliver/ship items, or can made-to-order or custom items also be included? 

This decision is up to the maker/vendor. Your product images should be a 100% representation of your available work and what is for sale on your website. It is OK for you to have an image that states “Custom Orders/Items” available. However, you need to make sure that you will have time to get these orders created and sent promptly, especially if they are a holiday gift.

If we have more than one item/category, do we submit a separate application for each product?

Only ONE application per maker is permitted, and you can only choose one category. Make various products that fit into multiple categories? You should select “OTHER.”

As a maker of mostly one-of-a-kind items, how will it work if we can only feature ten things? 

This answer is tricky. You will have to make this clear in your narrative on the virtual marketplace and then reiterate on your website that you make one of a kind items. A suggestion to tackle this would be to put in the ten images that you upload a graphic that says, “Visit my e-commerce site to see more of my one-of-a-kind jewelry.”

Will you be emailing the vendor application, or what is the link to fill it out?

I think that I signed up in the wrong category. Will this hurt my application?

No, historically, we have been flexible with moving makers into more appropriate categories. We understand that there can be overlap and confusion around choosing the right category. That will not change this year. In the future, you can always feel free to email info@handmadearcade.org and ask which category would be most appropriate for your product.