ELKHART — If you’re looking for signs of the American entrepreneurial spirit, look no further than the collection of Emergency Duct Tape Key Chain and Zipper Pulls.
The different-colored patterns of duct tape caught the eye of Chrystal Pedler of Union, Mich., and the gimmicky Christmas gift idea stuck.
Pedler had just arrived at the Osolo Craft Bazaar on Saturday when she saw the display. She bought six for $10.
“We have Boy Scouts, and we’re going to give them away for Christmas gifts,” Pedler said as she and a niece stood in a hallway of Osolo Elementary where the key chains were displayed on a table.
The 32nd bazaar, which benefits the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, has become a hot spot for shoppers who prefer hand-crafted items to mass-produced merchandise.
“I don’t like giving the usual things,” Pedler explained. “Unique things — I think — mean more because you took the time to really look.”
The key chains were made by Kelly Wisler of Wakarusa. She said the idea was inspired by her husband, Glen, who challenged her to start making something guys would like.
The craft work is a side business, she said.
“This is how we pay for our Christmas presents every year,” Wisler said.
Wisler was among a large number of crafters whose work was displayed on 180 tables spread through the gym and into every hallway and crevice on the first floor. The displays featured a bevy of items people might not need but still can’t resist.
Among the treasures to be found: candles, statues, ornaments, magnets, cake mixes, pet supplies, jewelry and trinkets of every kind.
For Green Bay Packers fans, there was the stuffed dog, tea towels and ceramic coasters — all emblazoned with the famous green and gold logo.
Looking for something more feminine? “Bella’s Fancy Tutus and Leggings” offered a plethora of princess skirts, perfect for the little girl who wants to dally in the delicate every day. Next to that dainty display was an “endless” selection of infinity scarves — very trendy — made by two sisters whose company name, Saffron and Nutmeg, is taken from two beloved cats.
Down the hall and around the corner was Bob Rosentreter’s Corian cutting boards. He and his wife, Karen, do all the cutting, routing and polishing. For $20, shoppers could pick up a collection of three differently sized and shaped cutting boards.
“I started with about 60 sets and I have about 20 left,” Rosentreter said.
Numerous vendors described the traffic as heavy and steady Saturday.
The secret to the bazaar’s success is simple. Limit vendors to selling only hand-crafted items, says Amber Kreider, a crafter who was overseeing the event for the first time.
To ensure that policy, organizers prohibit commercial operations and regularly inspect the wares to make sure nothing is coming off an assembly line.
Kreider said she’s occasionally asked vendors to put away certain items that clearly did not appear to be crafted at home. Most appreciate the approach.
“It’s nice that in this day and age where everything is plastic, to come and be able to know that a sweet little grandma knitted it at her house and didn’t buy it at Target,” Kreider said.