It’s no secret that I love going to Tasmania every year to attend the Tasmanian Craft Fair and to have a holiday. I find catching up with my family of friends there deeply enriching and heart warming. We greet each other with hugs and laughter, telling tales from the year that’s been, showing new designs and picking up from where we left off.
I was really lucky to be back in the same venue as the last few years, although in a slightly different spot but still a corner stall next to my friends. I think if I’d been moved into a different venue I would still have had a lovely time with my fellow stallholders but it wouldn’t be quite the same.
Being Beautifully Looked After Matters
But we did a have a big difference this year with our venue marshalls with two new Deloraine Rotary members looking after us, Maree and Bill. At the beginning of the Fair the Rotarian Volunteers are really busy, they just check in on us and make sure we’re ok with our setup, it isn’t really a time to get to know them, nor they us. We let them get on with things, sorting things out between ourselves and only asking for help when we must.
During the show they are wonderful, they check on us during the day, especially us girls running our stalls solo, seeing if we need a loo break, if we’re hungry or thirsty and generally supporting us. But what I found really interesting was the conversations we had during the more quiet moments when we got to understand each other better.
Our venue Marshall Maree commented to me how she was seeing for the first time how important the Craft Fair was for our stallholders’ community (they actually call us “exhibitors” but that makes me feel like a zoo creature rather than a creative creature!). Maree was getting to see how we all greeted each other, looked after each, even helping setup each other’s stalls and look after the stalls for bathroom and food breaks. She was getting to see the deep friendships that had formed over the years and how they were renewed over 5 days (bump in day plus four trading days). What was also interesting Maree was developing an understanding of how financially important the such shows are to the annual income for us makers.
Income Boosts for Small Businesses Are Vital
For most of us (all maybe?) stallholders the annual boost to income from a four day show with visitors who actually come to do their Christmas shopping is vitally important. For me it lets me catch up from the quiet time of winter, it comes after August and September where all my major annual financial commitments happen and it lets me get square again so that I can be a good squirrel with my summer markets. I love seeing my bank balance grow so I can feel safe about winter income and August and September! I’ve purposefully put a lot of effort into growing my customer family at the Craft Fair with new and favourite designs each year. I always work on new designs and purposefully have specials especially for the Fair. And it is the same for all of us stallholders. A good TCF is vitally important to looking after our cashflows, especially after winter.
It was great to see our Venue Marshall getting this, she saw for herself how important our annual catchup with our Craft Fair family is and how economically important it is for not just our businesses but also our families and households.
Getting Money Moving in Small Communities
Previously Maree had understood how important the Fair is for the local Deloraine community and the wider community projects the Rotarians support. After 36 years of getting money moving around the local regional community of a small northern Tasmanian town the impact is significant.
The locals of Deloraine and surrounds have money put into their schools, community centres, services and groups, parks and reserves, sporting venues and child centre centres just to name a few. And this has been happening for decades.
The compound effects of this are huge, they are actually too difficult to estimate. Plus, on top of that there is all the money that comes into the area from tourism that is generated by the Craft Fair with all of us ‘exhibitors’ and visitors staying, eating and shopping locally. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars every October/November that are directly spent with local small businesses. That’s really powerful. Any money spent with a local small business is powerful, but to magnify it such a way every year makes an actual impact on the entire state’s economy because the money just keeps moving around all the regional communities.
This has also created a very supportive community for artisans and artists. I love being in Deloraine because I have friends there who are also making their living from creativity, who get me and I them. We have big long ranging talks about shared experiences, telling stories about wonderful customers that bring joy to our hearts, thankful for having so very few difficult customers (I think they prefer shopping with the big boys in malls!), laughing about the creative experiments that go totally pear shape, drooling over art supplies, taking pleasure in feeling the textures of what the other makes and experiencing a deep sense of belonging because we’re understood. I love just how supportive and encouraging Tasmanians are as a whole with people like me.
Feeding my Soul with Adventures
On top of that many of the stallholders that come across from the mainland for the Craft Fair extend their stays, as I do, to see and enjoy the beautiful state. I stay mainly in regional and remote areas, visiting national parks and reserves, popping into little villages and towns to the delicious cafes and doing spots of shopping. While others will head off to Hobart for MONA or Launceston for the galleries and restaurants. Us travelling stall holders spend thousands of dollars every year in local Tasmanian communities and usually with other small businesses, independently owned and employing locals. We do this on purpose so the money keeps moving around because it’s so easy to understand the powerful impact of that.
Going exploring for me is about feeding my creative soul, having adventures and going out of my comfort zone always renews my creative spirits, it feeds my muse and I love it.
I’m always excited about heading off to the Tasmanian Craft Fair because it means so much to me in so many different ways. Being looked after by the Rotarians and getting to have such interesting talks with both with the new President and the new Venue Marshall made a big difference to me, I felt welcomed and understood and I think everyone needs to feel that way. I love it that the money I spend at the Fair from everything like my stall hire to my lunches to my Christmas shopping all gets to work with small local communities, none of it goes off overseas leaving barely a footprint, especially in tax.
I know there aren’t many great big shows like the Tasmanian Craft Fair around the country, let alone the world, but any fair or market that brings small, independent local makers together in a warm and supportive environment with visitors who treasure what they make and shop with them is something amazing in itself and should be celebrated.
The Tasmanian Craft Fair is put on every year by volunteers, by the Deloraine Rotarians and they make sure the good from the show is compounded through out their region, their state and international communities. I think that’s just wonderful! So if you have the opportunity to get involved in something so powerful and amazing be brave and step up, it changes the world around you in all the right ways!