Monday, October 8, 2007

Renegade Craft Fair: A review

So I've been meaning to post this forever and haven't. I FINALLY made it to the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago.

I was EXTREMELY interested in going because I heard it was, like, the coolest show EVER. And the last three years something has always come up the same damn weekend. So I made it a point to go this time.



I have to say I felt very hip because I went home from the St. Peter Barn Sale in Geneva and switched to my scooter from the car. Thought it'd be easier to park that way.

So I went around. I was hoping for some kind of map, but didn't get it, but that was really okay because I knew it was going to be a low-budget kind of thing. Or so I thought.

My initial impression was Wow! This must be way cool because there are a ton of people here! Dogs, cats on leashes, people - in every kind of dress imaginable.

Then I started looking. I was really interested in finding a hat and scarf for my swap partner, something cat related for another swap, and some useful and interesting little things I could give as gifts for the holiday season.

While I was initially impressed with the very cool stenciled and screenprinted shirts and aprons, after awhile it was kind of like, same ol', same ol'. I'm really wondering why the heck there was so much screenprinted stuff there.

Some very cool stuff I saw: aprons by the Craftyscientist, everything by the Recycling Artist, Emily Kirschner, and the cute little alpaca toys by a couple of girls whose company is escaping me right now. There was also a great booth that I bought some wool roving at - small pieces that were just the right price for someone who's very new to spinning and wanting to try it out.

Emily and her partner's booth was awesome like always. One of these days I'm going to fork over the money and get one of her awesome large totes - they have to be way stronger than those polypropelene bags being sold at the grocery store right now. And her service skills are AMAZING. She or her partner managed to talk to everyone in the booth, even though you had to wait to pay. That was very cool.

The cute little cat toy below is what I ended up sending my swap partner. A little piece of the Midwest for someone in Cali :-)



What I was really impressed by was the fact that these were not just booths, they were little slices of a crafty world. Almost all of the vendors did more than just stack stuff in their booth. While I couldn't afford those little alpaca toys (that looked like little alpacas), I highly enjoyed their booth - covered in grass with the alpacas looking like they were eating and sleeping and playing in their natural environment.

This was by far one of the funniest booths ever and probably the reason I'll go back with my DH.



This was a "robotic" postcard vendor. You'd go up to the booth, spin the dial and "it" would beep and talk to you and then vend a card - with things like Chicago, the craft fair, etc. as the theme.

I must have sat there for half an hour. Lord, I'm easily entertained. HAHAHA! :-)

Some very nasty stuff I saw: WAY, WAY, WAY too much screenprinted stuff. Its the fad of the year, apparently. $60 garter stitch scarves. Come on! I know we have to make a living after all - I would have been willing to pay $25-30 for a basic one to save my time, but they didn't even look like they were made of wool!

Some of the vendors had extremely crappy service. I walked out of one while waiting to talk to the vendor about her wool yarn from Michigan. I wanted to know more about it and how much it was, and would have been willing to pay for it because I'm very connected to that area, but she was talking with her friend and didn't want to pay me the time of day.

That was my biggest disappointment of the day. Even though there were all manners of people there, there was a certain crowd that Renegade seemed to be meant for - namely, size Small or Medium blond haired girls with tiny dogs.

There were a great deal of people there between sizes 12-24 that would have loved some of the stuff there and almost everywhere you went, sizes ended at M. What's up with that? Do these craft vendors know they're killing off 85% of their market? Plus, I was dressed "non-crafty" - button down and jeans, and I would walk into a booth at the same time as a size 6, girl wearing a screenprinted shirt and I would be ignored, while the vendor would fall all over themselves to treat their other customer well.

Heck, I brought $100 with me and spent $15. Yes, that's right. 15% of what I brought. I was that disappointed with the services of the vendors.

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Will I go back again? I think so. I'd especially like to take my DH with me and see what he thinks. Especially if Carlo Rossi is there again. That was too funny - sample the Carlo Rossi and decorate a jug of wine. It was quite popular :-)

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