A downtown shop with a passion for craft and community

Photo: Barsin Aghajan

Photo: Barsin Aghajan

The multitude of artistic talent contained in Niagara is nothing short of overwhelming, especially in St. Catharines where there is something happening on any given evening. With events like STRUTT that take place every year, the booming music scene and the many gallery venues available for artists to showcase their work, it is increasingly evident that the art scene in St. Catharines and Niagara is being constantly recognized and continually growing. However, the issue for emerging artists who wish to seek art as their profession is finding the means to sell their craft, as beginning a business is an expensive and time-consuming project which many young artists aren’t able to do on their own.

Sarah Jarvis and Nancy Kapodistrias are hoping to help local artists as much as they can and contribute to the growth of artistry in Niagara by opening their shop in St. Catharines.

Craft Arts Market opened on Jan. 16 on James Street in St. Catharines with the goal of creating a space for artistic entrepreneurs to grow and to promote their business and their craft.

“There are so many artists here in Niagara and there’s a lot of stuff happening downtown. The Niagara Artists Centre is always doing something and there are always concerts to go to, so we just wanted to create a space that was motivating for people who want to pursue art as a career,” said Kapodistrias. “It’s an intimidating thing to want to be an artist because you always worry about being classified as a ‘starving artist’ and it takes a lot of time and money to invest in a store and all of your supplies.”

Both owners agreed that St. Catharines was in need of an accessible shop where artists could sell their items at a fair price and where shoppers could find local art at affordable prices.

“I had lived in Toronto for a number of years prior to moving back here in June and I was spoiled with the amount of shops like this that carried local and unique things,” said Jarvis. “When I came back here I realized how much downtown needed something like this. We know so many artists with beautiful things that didn’t know where to put them and didn’t want to buy their own shop, so we’ve created a curated spot for artists, but without charging commission. We’re starting from the bottom ourselves and we want to grow with the artists. We’ve done our best to create a space for entrepreneurs to grow as professional artists.”

CRAFTMost shops similar to Craft Arts Market run on commission, typically distributing half of net sales to the artist and half to the store owners. When the split is this high however, the prices increase to accommodate the needs of both parties. Jarvis and Kapodistrias, on the other hand want a business that caters to the artist and the needs of the community and therefore instead of charging commission, rent space based on square footage of the artists display along with a small administration fee. This exchange makes it much easier and affordable for emerging artists to get their foot in the door, and also creates a shop containing a variety of unique items, rather than a shop containing a singular type of art.

In addition to selling the items for various artists, the owners would like to start classes where artists can come to the shop and teach a class dependent upon their specific craft.

“We have the selling portion of the shop but we’ll also be offering the space to artists who wish to teach their craft to other people,” said Kapodistrias. “We invite all artists to come and teach people something new.”

Kapodistrias will be teaching a knitting class herself at the shop in the near future. All upcoming classes for anyone interested will be posted on the shop’s online calendar.

“We’d like to get really unique courses, for example we just had someone who applied to teach a course on upcycling clothes so that would be interesting for a lot of people,” said Kapodistrias. “We have a lot of people who want to do drawing and painting but we’re hoping for a variety of different craft workshops as well.”

Jarvis and Kapodistrias also have their sights set on opening a communal studio for artists to work on their art in the future.

“We’d like to get together with people in need of studio space and needing something communal. We’re attempting to provide space for people to create art as well as sell it,” said Kapodistrias.

The shop is already filled with unique items from local artists and people have been responding well to the new location. The emphasis on selling quality items at reasonable prices is evident upon seeing the items currently in stock. It is an exciting addition to the downtown sphere of St. Catharines, where artists can begin their professional career and everyone has a space to shop for unique and local items based on quality and a love for the craft.

“It’s not just about art, but about recycling, upcycling, shopping local and of course it’s about community. It’s all of those things.”

Craft Arts Market will be hosting its grand opening soon.

Craft Arts Market is located at 7 James St. in St. Catharines. For more information, visit craftartsmarket.ca and find them on Twitter and Instagram @craftartsmarket

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One thought on “A downtown shop with a passion for craft and community

  1. congrats to sarah and nancy and their craft arts market! it’s so rewarding to work with creative people. i have been almost five years since opening “something else” gallery boutique in a restored century-old pharmacy building on west street along the canal downtown port colborne. all things recycled, upcycled and handmade by local, regional, and provincial artists and artisans continue to impress and amaze visitors. it’s a wonderful fun adventure. all the best; may you celebrate the arts for many years to come. gail todd

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