If you’re looking for a unique gift this Christmas, such as a handmade ukulele or a knitted teddy bear, a pop-up store in Smithers may just have what you are looking for. Out of Hand is a cooperative of local artists that opens its doors every year for the holidays. They have vendors this year from Burns Lake to Hazelton and one from as far as Terrace. Organizer Lyn Nugent said this is a different way for local artists and artisans to get their wares to the public.
“The artists split the expenses and all the money goes back to the artists, so it isn’t run like a traditional store, it is run more like a coop,” she said. “That was our goal was to make sure that artists had a place to sell their goods and make the money themselves.”
“It isn’t that they aren’t local stores that try to support local artists, there are. But it is really expensive it run a store full time and it is very hard for people who are producing made in Canada goods to have enough margin left to sell in a traditional store. They have to mark up, if they can’t mark up they can’t afford rent. So that is why co-ops spring into existence because it keeps the cost down so they can sell things at a price that people can afford and make a reasonable income. It isn’t a slam against other stores in town that are trying to stock local and made in Canada goods, because they are some and that is awesome, but it is just the cost of producing is too high for some of us to sell in a traditional store.”
The store is up and running for its fifth year and is open from now until Christmas Eve, Monday to Saturday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
“We have to find a store that is empty and will rent to us for inexpensively as possible. If we rent year around, we will have all those costs that go along with that and we haven’t found a way to make it affordable.”
This year, they have more vendors than every before. There are 49 vendors who have set up shop in the old Gone Hollywood building on First Avenue. The store was able have more vendors because they were able to secure a big space. Last year, they had between 36 and 40 vendors in their space on Main Street. Nugent said the number was fluid because some artists sold out.
Out of Hand has things for everyone.
“Lots of stuff for kids and infants but there are things are more suitable, if I can be gendered, for guys,” said Nugent. “We have a blacksmith who is making some awesome things, we have a fellow that is tying fishing flies, we have a couple of potters, we have people who do stain and blown glass. We also have quite a lot of nice foods and chocolates. We also have some quilters and a lot of artists, jewellers, body products, candles, it is quite an array. We will also have someone coming in doing leatherwork. There is a lot of variety.”
Out of Hand has a Facebook page and an Instagram account featuring all the local vendors and their art.
“Smithers really supports local, it is really great,” added Nugent.