Market Madness: Indie Craft Experience events to highlight one-of-a-kind holiday gifts

Handmade toys at the ICE Holiday Market.

Put down the generic gift card. Step away from long checkout lines. Amazon is not the answer. If you’re looking for original, one-of-a-kind gifts, then be sure to put two upcoming events hosted by Indie Craft Experience on your holiday shopping to-do list.

Atlanta’s grassroots indie craft market returns with the Holiday Shopping Spectacular at the Georgia Freight Depot on Nov. 17-18 and the Holiday Market on Dec. 9 at the Yaarab Temple. Both shows have the ICE standard: handcrafted goods, arts, crafts and vintage, all with an indie vibe.

When Christy Petterson and crafting partner in crime Shannon Mulkey Green first hosted the Holiday Shopping Spectacular in 2005, they sought to create a collection of vendors selling trendy arts and goods, not traditional crafts. Typical craft shows bring a nostalgic, festival outing vibe, but ICE represents the latest in the arts and crafts world with an indie aesthetic.

The core mission is to provide opportunities for artisans to share their goods, while providing a unique shopping experience for Atlanta. “There’s something very special about picking something up off a table and buying it from the person who actually made it,” Petterson said.

The ICE Holiday Shopping Spectacular at the Georgia Freight Depot.

The duo started by traveling to art shows to sell their own handmade goods, driving as far as the Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and Boston. As they participated in markets, they met other artists and invited them to sell at Indie Craft Experience. In its 14th year, the Holiday Shopping Spectacular juries hundreds of applications to arrive at 170 vendors. Petterson and Green review all applications at one time and select vendors so there is a variety of goods representing each category, from handcrafted housewares to vintage designs from all decades.

Petterson enjoys looking over applications to include a blend of vendors who have previously sold at the show while adding in new faces as well. “People have said, ‘I grew up going to [ICE] with my mom and I’ve been looking forward to being old enough to be a vendor’, – which makes me feel really old – but it’s cool that we have inspired the next generation of crafters.”

The December ICE Holiday Market is smaller and, according to Petterson, more last-minute for streamlined shopping. “You can get in, get your focus list taken care of, and easily navigate 60 vendors.”

Both markets welcome browsing, but Petterson said each market has also been strategically planned to cater to serious shoppers as well. Here are two pro tips on navigating the ICE Holiday Shopping Spectacular from the host herself:

Customers shop at the ICE Shopping Spectacular.

Mornings are for bagging, afternoons are for gabbing: The Holiday Shopping Spectacular can get crowded during the morning on both days as the ICE team hands out “swag bags” to the first 250 attendees. Petterson recommends shoppers wanting to converse with vendors to either snag a swag bag and return in the afternoon or skip the morning rush altogether. “If you want to talk with the vendors and have more personal attention, the afternoon is always a little easier to navigate,” she said.

Look, then Loop: ICE puts a vendor list on their website with a sample photo of each vendor’s goods along with links to their personal websites. While at the show, loop back to vendors multiple times to first scout and browse and then make final selections. “Go through the list and figure out five or six people to target while keeping your shopping list in mind,” Petterson advised.

ICE Holiday Shopping Spectacular
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18
Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days
Admission: $5 cash at the door, kids 12 and under free
Location: Georgia Freight Depot, 65 Martin Luther King Jr.Drive SE

ICE Holiday Market
When:Sunday, Dec. 9
Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $5 cash at the door, kids 12 and under free
Location: Yaarab Temple, 400 Ponce de Leon Ave.

For more information, visit ice-atlanta.com.

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