Annual crafts show sees increase in customers, sales

pramati@macon.comNovember 10, 2013 

Maybe it’s an improving economy. Maybe it’s the weather.

But for whatever reason, officials and merchants at the Christmas Made in the South market in the Macon Coliseum and Wilson Convention Center said Sunday that business this weekend showed a marked improvement over previous years.

“This is our fourth year, and this is the best one we’ve done so far,” said Steve Nofs, of Macon, who sells a variety of bee-related products such as wax and honey. “It’s leaps and bounds better, both in sales and attendance.”

Nofs said his business is up about 25 percent from the previous year.

Gordon Coffee, of Savannah, who helps operate his parents’ booth, Dr. Pete’s gourmet foods, said business has been up 12 to 15 percent.

“This year has been a lot better,” he said. “I think people lost interest for four or five years, maybe because of the economy. (This year’s) gate must have been great, because we’ve had a good show.”

Janice Hunt, the show coordinator for Christmas in the South, said the show drew about 17,000 or 18,000 through the end of Saturday, and Sunday’s gate was sizeable.

“It’s close to a record-breaker,” said Hunt, who added that her organization also puts on shows in Columbus, Augusta, Savannah, Jacksonville, Fla., Charlotte, N.C. and Charleston, S.C. “We’ve had a fearsome response. There’s been a real resurgence of the event.”

Hunt said a recent Parade Magazine article about a renewed interest in hand-crafted items among younger generations may have played a part.

“People love doing crafts,” she said. “They love, in their spare time, to create things. Something has definitely happened.”

The timing of Macon’s 21st Christmas Made in the South probably also plays a factor. People are already in shopping mode for the holidays.

“I think people are feeling better,” Coffee said. “They want to come out on an earlier day (to) buy gifts other than Black Friday.”

With temperatures at 70 degrees, Nofs said it was just right to draw in people.

“The weather has been perfect,” he said. “A little chill gets people in the shopping mood.”

Kay Hough, of Fort Valley, attended Sunday’s show with her mother and her mother’s best friend. She said she usually attends Christmas Made in the South once a year. She purchased a pack of honey straws from Nofs and his wife, Jacqueline.

“I like doing crafts, and I like to see what other people are doing with them,” she said. “I like honey straws, and most places don’t have locally grown honey. It’s good for allergies.”

Toni Brown, of Warner Robins, attended her first show Sunday and said she found the variety of products offered almost overwhelming. Though she came specifically to find a set of Grinch-painted bowling pins that a friend had told her about, she also bought coffee mugs, hot chocolate, a necklace, moisturizer and a bow and arrow.

“I had heard about all the different arts and crafts,” she said. “I wanted to experience it myself. It’s been really nice. I’ve already gotten three people Christmas gifts. ... I’m mesmerized by everything out here.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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