Texas Avenue Makers Fair Helps Satisfy Local Demand for Handmade Goods in Shreveport-Bossier

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Handmade items from the Shreveport-Bossier area make the Texas Avenue Makers Fair a 'must-attend' event for shoppers wanting unique and one-of-a-kind items.

'Make It and They Will Come,' Say Ark-La-Tex Vendors of Handmade and Locally-Produced Gifts

Texas Avenue Makers Fair Continues Its Success as Locals Vote with Their Pocketbooks

Makers Fair in Shreveport and Bossier City helps locals find handmade gifts
In need of a unique gift that is not like three others already under the Christmas tree? Craving delicious and fresh food from locally-sourced ingredients? Wanting to hear live music from a local band? The answer is not 'this' or 'that' shopping center or the food court at the mall - but the twice-a-year Texas Avenue Makers Fair in Shreveport-Bossier which is happening again on November 14, 2015.

Fans of the Texas Avenue Makers Fair have expanded exponentially, according to Bossier City resident Cassandra Long. "I just love, love, love the Makers Fair," Long said. "There is a community vibe that you just don't get at the mall. We're helping our local economy with all these Ark-La-Tex vendors."

Long said that finding handmade and locally-made products is not that easy. "Sometimes stores say things are handmade or locally made, and then you get home and find that they forgot to take the 'Made in China' sticker off of it when you open the package," Long added. "But at the Makers Fair you can talk to the people who make the items. It's amazing."

Held once in the Fall and once in the Spring of each year, the Texas Avenue Makers Fair has grown steadily with each passing year of its existence in downtown Shreveport, according to event organizers.

The Makers Fair began through a collective called Texas Avenue Community Association (TACA), which was formed from concerned Shreveport citizens who desired to lure creativity and diversity back to Texas Avenue. According to event organizers, the efforts of TACA have been fruitful, and the proof of this, they say, is that the Makers Fair has grown in both vendor and attendance numbers since the fair began in 2010.

Staffed by hard working, like-minded volunteers interested in helping create increased visibility for locally-made goods, the bi-annual event shows the promise of further growth for Texas Avenue, its surrounding neighborhoods and downtown Shreveport.

Chris Graham, owner of a company that produces handmade soap - appropriately called 'Man Made Soap' - said the Makers Fair succeeds at giving local residents who create their own products visibility that is hard to come by elsewhere. "They put on a great show, and it really helps local makers show off their stuff," Graham said. "This fair basically brings out a lot of artists and people who make things and would not have had a place to sell it."
Man Made Soap, Bossier City

The soap maker said the range of products is interesting as well - everything from Graham's wide selection of soap to unusual foods and re-purposed furniture. "It is a good opportunity for these makers and craftsmen to get out and meet customers and have a place to be seen," Graham added. "A lot of people come out and stock up on things they like since the fair is only twice a year."

For Shreveport-Bossier residents with hard-to-please friends and family members on their Christmas shopping lists, the Makers Fair has become a 'must-attend' event: "Makers Fair is a chance for people to buy unique Christmas gifts, but it is more than that - it is a great opportunity to have a big community event that celebrates our downtown area which is really making a comeback," said Graham.

The owner of Man Made Soap has been making handmade soap for more than 10 years. He said he started by making soap for friends and family but never thought about it becoming a full-time job until a few co-workers at his former workplace encouraged him because of their excitement about his products. "I was lucky to have some ladies at my work try it and say it was something I needed to do," Chris Graham said.
Bossier City's Man Made Soap owner Chris Graham
Chris Graham of Man Made Soap
Man Made Soap's early good fortune continued when Graham was given the chance to sell his products at local gift boutique, Nest and Company. "I was able to put my products in Linda Wicker's store on the Boardwalk, and the Shreveport Times did an article, too."

But in the world of handmade products, there are no short-cuts. "Handmade soap has to cure for four weeks," Graham said. "So I really have to plan and forecast to make sure I have enough inventory for busy periods." Besides the popular handmade soap, Graham offers natural lotions and cedar soap trays.

Man Made Soap has a website, ManMadeSoap.net, where items can be purchased directly, but it is the personal contact that Chris Graham enjoys the most. "It is great for customers to see and meet the people who are making their soap."

A broad assortment of locally handmade, repurposed, reconstructed and vintage items will be available for purchase at the Fair. Music has played an important part in past incarnations of the Makers Fair, and 2015 promises to be no exception with a variety of live performances scheduled. An array of tempting foods and beverages offered by food trucks and other local vendors will be on hand for purchase to satisfy the hunger of even the most hardcore fair shopper. Other surprises are planned throughout the day.
"There is a community vibe that you just don't get at the mall. We're helping our local economy with all these Ark-La-Tex vendors."  C. Long, Bossier City
This event is a convenient way to get a jump-start on holiday shopping as well as birthdays and other special occasions, said event organizers. According to the Man Made Soap owner, the fair is also a viable excuse to get out of the house and socialize with some great people. Local handmade merchants want potential shoppers to realize that purchasing locally at events like the Makers Fair, helps the community. The vendors' convincing argument is that the dollars spent at the fair stay in the Ark-La-Tex and also promote nearby businesses in the downtown area.

Graham said that if it appears rainy on the day of the event, visitors should just bring their umbrellas and come. "I tell the other makers: Just bring your canopy and hope for the best," Graham said with a chuckle. "There is no reschedule if there is bad weather, but it will be fun either way." Ark-La-Tex.com

  • [vtab]
    • Extra info
      • Admission is free. Event is outdoors with tented merchants, so be sure to note the day's weather and bring proper clothing. Small, sociable pets on non-retractable, short leashes are welcome.
    • When
      • Saturday, November 14, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (CST)
    • Where
      • 888 Texas Avenue - The Monty Lot - Elvis Presley Blvd & Texas Ave. (some GPS and printed maps may say Grand Ave, instead of Elivs Presley Blvd.) Shreveport, LA 71101
    • Website
      • https://www.facebook.com/Texas-Avenue-Makers-Fair-193320317387393/
[Preview the Texas Avenue Makers Fair ##eye##]

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Ark-La-Tex.com News: Texas Avenue Makers Fair Helps Satisfy Local Demand for Handmade Goods in Shreveport-Bossier
Texas Avenue Makers Fair Helps Satisfy Local Demand for Handmade Goods in Shreveport-Bossier
Handmade items from the Shreveport-Bossier area make the Texas Avenue Makers Fair a 'must-attend' event for shoppers wanting unique and one-of-a-kind items.
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