Crafty Supermarket Celebrates 10 Years

The biannual show hosts 100 vendors touting jewelry, fine art, apothecary, ceramics, artisan edible goods, housewares and more

Nov 25, 2019 at 5:56 pm
click to enlarge A previous iteration of the Crafty Supermarket. - Provided by Crafty Supermarket
Provided by Crafty Supermarket
A previous iteration of the Crafty Supermarket.

It seems like a single weekend in Cincinnati doesn’t go by without a craft fair taking over a brewery, art space or park, but the city wasn’t always such a hotbed for independent makers.

Crafty Supermarket first entered the scene a decade ago, originally setting up shop in the Northside Tavern. Now, the biannual show hosts 100 vendors touting jewelry, fine art, apothecary, ceramics, artisan edible goods, housewares and more. And on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the city’s longest-running indie maker market will head to the Music Hall Ballroom to celebrate its 10-year anniversary with an expanded two-day craft show.

In 2009, Crafty Supermarket co-founder Chris Salley Davis was splitting time between working for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America and using her vacation days to accompany her musician boyfriend (now-husband), Ben, on tour. An illustrator herself with a fine arts background, their travels lit a creative spark. 

“I would notice this indie craft thing happening in other cities,” she says. “Like we’d be in Chicago or New York and I’d hear about Renegade Craft Fair — which is huge — or I’d stumble upon little shops that were selling only handmade goods. I’d come back (to Cincinnati) and I just didn’t see that kind of network.”

And so she set out to create what she thought the Queen City was lacking: a craft fair of our own. 

Living in Northside at the time, Salley Davis started a Facebook group called “Bring Your Own Project,” where members would meet up at Happen, Inc. — a nonprofit art space — to hang out, spin records and work on their projects. She also began to work on opening Fabricate on Hamilton Avenue, a store dedicated to selling one-of-a-kind, handmade craft goods. (It has since closed.) But still, there weren’t any craft fairs like those she’d seen in other cities. 

Then she met writer Grace Dobush and artist Alisha Budkie (who would go on to open the pay-what-you-can arts supply store Indigo Hippo). They were trying to put together a small craft show called Crafty Supermarket. The three met up at Northside’s Sidewinder Coffee, Salley Davis joined the team, and the inaugural market was born. 

The first show had 20 vendors and no cover charge. There was a line around the block to get in to the Northside Tavern. 

“It was a great first show,” Salley Davis says. “No risk. I don’t even know if the Tavern charged us.” 

After that, she says “makers started coming out of the woodwork.” With increased demand (and concerns about fire code), the market quickly expanded into a biannual event at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center before outgrowing that space in favor of the Music Hall Ballroom. These days, Crafty Supermarket pops up around Mother’s Day and after Thanksgiving, receiving hundreds of vendor applications per show and welcoming thousands of visitors. Around 7,000 shoppers are expected to attend this year’s holiday market, which coincides with Small Business Saturday. 

“The most important thing to me is to get shoppers there for the makers, and getting to see the makers’ businesses grow,” Salley Davis says. 

Case in point: the inaugural Crafty Supermarket was local artist Jessica Wolf’s first ever craft fair for her fledgling paper arts business Paper Acorn. This past October, her glowing paper sculpture installation “Arborealis” canopied a Findlay Market alleyway during BLINK — a couple was even married beneath it. 

For Salley Davis, the key to Crafty Supermarket is keeping the focus on accessibility, for attendees and creators alike. The show continues to be free, so even shoppers with tight budgets can come to hang out and appreciate the art. 

“Now there are tons of maker events where people can sell in the city but when we started, there was no event like this,” she says. “Cincinnati is changing a lot, and rapidly. All the breweries that are around — not a one of them was around 10 years ago, and all of them have a craft fair now. I love that makers have so many opportunities, and if the city can support it then the city can support it. So far we haven’t seen a decline in participation.

“That’s kind of the amazing thing about Cincinnati. It’s really cool to see all these businesses spring up.”

Crafty Supermarket takes place 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 1 at Music Hall (1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine), Free admission. More info: