In absence of craft shows, Hilliard residents launch website to connect local vendors with customers
Correction: Because of a reporter's error, the first version of this story published online listed the incorrect scheduled location for the canceled Hilliard Hollyfest Arts & Crafts Show.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused many changes for central Ohioans, including how they can shop for the holidays.
For example, what would have been the 38th annual Hilliard Hollyfest Arts & Crafts Show on Dec. 5 at Hilliard Davidson High School has joined the long list of canceled events in 2020.
Thousands of customers would have browsed and bought handmade crafts from 118 vendors, said Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the annual show.
But even though Hollyfest is canceled, a past vendor and a new craft maker have collaborated to make many of the products that would have been sold there available on a website, livehereshophere.com.
Tony Moog, who works for AT&T and makes etched-glass products for his side business, CraftMan Creations, and June Sipl, an interior designer who makes crafts for her side business, Tiny Art by June, launched the website. As of Nov. 24, it had 15 vendors.
Moog had sold his etched glassware for the past four years at Hollyfest, whereas Sipl, who had some extra time on her hands because of the pandemic, began making crafts. The two were acquainted through mutual friends, and both are Hilliard residents.
“With no (craft) shows because of the virus, we had to think of different ways to market,” Sipl said.
Sipl said they considered Etsy, a well-known website that markets handmade crafts, “but we wanted to focus on something for vendors just in Hilliard.”
“We brainstormed about it and came up with (livehereshophere.com),” Moog said.
The pair reached out to Gierach, who already had improvised by establishing a Facebook page for Hollyfest to allow vendors an opportunity to sell their goods.
“We are supportive of (livehereshophere.com) and hope it’s successful,” said Gierach, who also advised her vendors of the opportunity to participate on the website.
The website is providing the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce with 25% of any profits, Sipl said.
“Our focus is the support of small businesses, and we hope to add more vendors," she said. "We would like for it to be bigger.”
Although the focus is local, it is not a requirement that vendors live in Hilliard, Sipl said.
One, Cori Brennen, recently moved from Hilliard and lives in South Charleston in Clark County..
Brennen prints T-shirts, crochets and makes Christmas ornaments for her business, Clubhouse Crafts.
“My house is a huge mess all the time,” said Brennen, who was acquainted with Sipl and accepted the offer to take a crack at marketing her crafts.
“I’ve only ever sold by word of mouth before,” Brennen said.
Because the vendors are mostly local, customers can arrange to pick up their purchases, but each vendor and customer make their own arrangements for payment and delivery, Sipl said.
Vendors interested in listing merchandise can visit livehereshophere.com to apply.
The website has no registration fee, but a percentage of sales is collected for using it, Sipl said.
Seasonal crafts, such as for Valentine’s Day next year, will be added to the website periodically, she said.
“We plan to make (the website) permanent,” Sipl said.