Local artists see growth in anti-Black Friday shopping

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of shoppers crowded the aisles at the McEnery Convention Center in downtown San Jose Friday morning to start their holiday gift shopping.

Most said they were there to avoid the typical Black Friday frenzy at area malls. Instead, people like Stephanie Camarda from Santa Clara said she wants to support local artists and crafts people who produce unique items not mass produced and sold in chain stores.

The second floor of the facility has more than 250 artists displaying their artwork, handicrafts, gourmet food and other items. Vendors from Santa Rosa, Napa, Pleasant Hill and other communities were represented. Many, such as Timothy Daw and his wife, work out of their garage or a work space at their homes. The Daws used to work in the restaurant field, but now make their full-time living by doing laser engraving of recycled bottles. Their business is called Reclamation Etch Works. Shows such as the one in San Jose are vital to their existence since over 50 percent of their annual sales are done in the last three months of the year. That is also typical for most mall retailers.

Dori Egan makes custom jewelry in Pleasant Hill. Over the 40 years she has been selling at craft shows, she has seen sentiment ebb and flow when it comes to consumers preferring handmade goods over mass produced merchandise. She believes the appetite for unique pieces of jewelry and other personalized item is very much in demand today.

Christopher Rogalla was attracting a large number of shoppers around his scented soy based candle booth. He recognizes that even at a crafts show there is plenty of competition for eyeballs and dollars. However, he hopes that others will be inspired to develop their creative talents and turn craft making into a viable livelihood.

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