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Shoppers get creative for Christmas

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 23. 2017 8:54PM
Deserae Duhaime, left, of Manchester, makes a purchase with her sister, Cheslee Duval of Wells, Maine, at the Manchester Craft Market, a new store at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Nobody will be lining up clutching coupons when the Manchester Craft Market opens today at 6 a.m. at the Mall of New Hampshire, the traditional kickoff to the Christmas shopping season.

At a time when some people complete all their shopping online, others look for a homemade touch in their gift hunt.

“I think it’s a nice addition to the mall,” Auburn resident Donna Donckers said last week. “I always like looking at crafts and what people can make on their own.”

About 120 vendors pay a monthly fee to sell their wares in a former pet shop between GameStop and New England Picture near Sears.

Jess Moores, who founded the market, said she wanted to earn money to pay off her student loans when she opened for nine weekends in the mall last year.

“I started this store with 14 cents in my bank account,” Moores said.

This year, she returned in a new mall spot for what will be her first Christmas selling season. She hopes to pay off her student loans by Easter.

The store offers items from $2 Christmas ornaments up to $475 Damascus knives with leather sheaths.

“I’m excited to have a made-in-New Hampshire spot to spend my money,” said Manchester resident Deserae Duhaime, who paid a visit with her sister.

Duhaime left with a necklace for herself while sister Cheslee Duval of Wells, Maine, spent $40 on four Christmas gifts — including a $10 necklace for herself.

Craft fairs are all the rage this time of year at neighborhood churches — and stores can be found across the state selling items made by crafty Granite Staters.

In Concord, the League of N.H. Craftsmen sees sales in November and December produce half of the store’s yearly revenue, according to manager Janine Lep. Items produced by 320 artists on display include a $7 pressed glass medallion and a $1,600 glass sculpture by Peter Vanderlann.

At the Manchester Craft Market, Manchester resident Christine Ryan has been selling her necklaces and bracelets made from crocheted beads and wire since last year.

Sales have been “steadily going up,” allowing her to more than cover her $250 monthly rental fee for space near the store’s cashier area.

“If the business keeps increasing as it is, I won’t have to do craft shows” next year, she said.

Jack Toscano, the mall’s general manager, said the concept brings dozens of small businesses under one roof.

“People can shop local here now with a lot of merchandise from New England and New Hampshire,” he said.

About 98 percent of the vendors live in New Hampshire, Moores said. The average monthly rental cost runs around $125 during the holiday season, more for those renting larger spaces. Vendors keep 100 percent of the receipts, minus a 3 percent fee for any credit card sales.

The store’s best sellers are 6-inch square paintings with the saying “Have a nice poop” that sell for $20.

“They’re hilarious; we sell so many of them,” Moores said.

She also makes memorial ornaments from clothing of people who have passed away. She can get enough material from a single shirt to make four to six ornaments, priced at $12 each.

“I have about 100 I need to make before the end of the year,” she said.

“I think it’s lovely, such a variety of things in here and they’re all made here in New Hampshire,” said Hooksett resident Cynthia Wright.

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