Shopping with meaning

With all the talk about every day being black Friday, it's easy to fall prey to coupon crazes and power-hour frenzies. But there is a way to shop for meaningful, one-of-a-kind gifts without the hassle of mall parking or mounting credit card debt: Craft fairs.

Craft-matic: Selling handmade wares at the twice-yearly Big Crafty, which returns to Pack Place on Sunday, Dec. 6. Photos by Brandy Bourne.

Yep, those artsy markets stocked with handmade treasures sufficed just fine back in your grandmother's day. And, what with the DIY movement, economic slumps and the trend toward simpler, greener, locally sourced possessions, craft markets are not just viable options, but downright hip hubs of holiday shopping (many also involve food, drink, live music and activities, so plan to make a day of it).

Here's a sample of the area's offerings. Check Xpress' Community Calendar for updated listings throughout the season.

• The Arts Council of Henderson County's annual Holiday Artist Market includes reasonably priced fine art, folk art, paintings, photography, fiber work, textiles, jewelry, clay, woodwork, glass and more.

Through Saturday, Dec. 19 (Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m.) at 538 North Main St., Hendersonville. or 693-8504.

• An artist's holiday cocktail party and sale, featuring work by Shelley Schenker ( benefits local Keep America Beautiful affiliate Asheville GreenWorks.

Thursday, Dec. 3, 5-8 p.m. at Brixx Pizza, Biltmore Park. or 254-1776.

• Stop by the Grove Arcade where local businesses, craftspeople and artists take part in the Holiday Market. A percentage of sales go to the nonprofit Western North Carolinians for Criminal Justice (WCCJ) which runs restorative justice programs. 

Friday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. & Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Grove Arcade (1 Page Ave., Suite 101, Asheville)

• Enka High School's Occupational Course of Study holds its 22nd annual craft fair at Enka High. More than 30 crafters will be on hand with a variety of items.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Info: 670-5000.

• The Rugby Craft Fair (on the Rugby Middle School campus in Hendersonville) includes more than 100 crafters from around the Southeast. Children can make crafts to take home in the free children's craft room.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Info:

• The promise: "a wide assortment of original and affordable gift possibilities from stocking-stuffers to gallery-quality fine art. " Where to go? The fourth annual Leicester Artists Holiday Arts and Crafts Show, which also includes door prizes given away every 30 minutes, refreshments, baked goods and lunch available from the Leicester Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization (a fundraiser for support of the school).

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Springs at Asheville clubhouse. Info:

• Tapping into the aromatic side of the holidays, the Christmas Greens Market brings out local crafters offering fresh boxwood wreathes, evergreen garlands, live table centerpieces, ornaments made from natural materials, pottery, Christmas trees and more. (Less green, equally good-smelling perks: hot cider and a gingerbread house). Proceeds support the French Broad River Garden Club.

Saturdays, Dec. 5 & 12, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Clem's Cabin, 1000 Hendersonville Rd. 274-5891.

Seeing the forest: "Fall Forest" by Ben Freeman, who sells art at the Arts Council of Henderson County's market.

• Locals and tourists both know that the Southern Highland Craft Guild's annual Holiday Sale is a must when it comes to seasonal shopping. The sale will run for two Saturdays. The Guild Artists' seconds sale allows craftspeople to sell select work 10 to 50-percent off retail. 

Saturday, Dec. 5 & Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Folk Art Center (milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, East Asheville). 298-7928 or

Flat Rock's Annual Holiday Stroll is sponsored by the shops of Little Rainbow Row. Enjoy refreshments, holiday music and a holiday tailgate Market, featuring local farmers with seasonal items and handmade crafts, held in in the lower parking lot.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (tailgate market is 1:30-4:30 p.m.); Info: The Wrinkled Egg at 696-3998 or Hand in Hand Gallery at 697-7719.

• Love prowling old buildings and shopping for unique gifts? Do both: The Historic Kenilworth Inn (now apartments) hosts a holiday art market. A dozen neighborhood artists showcase their work (paintings, jewelry, pottery, tiles, hand bound books, clothing, painted furniture, cloth dolls, glass ornaments and turned wooden bowls) in the lobby. Artists will donate a percentage of sales to a local charity.

Saturday, Dec. 5, noon-5 p.m. at 60 Caledonia Road, Asheville.

• The Big Crafty returns with an intimate holiday market showcasing music, food and drink, prizes and the newest offerings from 100 handmade microbusinesses. The craffle raffle is in partnership with Lark Books and features belt buckles made by local artists. 

Sunday, Dec. 6 from 12-6 p.m. at Pack Place.

• The Loaves & Fishes Alternative Gift Market offers shoppers a way to buy gifts while serving the community. Proceeds from items for sale go to local and international nonprofits. For a list of benefiting agencies, visit

Sunday, Dec. 6 from 12:15-2 p.m. in the Gardner Fellowship Hall, 40 Church St., Asheville. 253-1431.

• Owen Middle School gears up for its 6th annual Christmas in the Valley Arts and Crafts Show, to be held in the gym. Juried arts (pottery, metalwork, woodwork, fabrics, jewelry, music and more), local BBQ, homemade concessions, raffle, children's area and Santa. Shoppers can also bring nonperishable food donations for the Swannanoa Rescue Mission.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Info: 686-7917.

• Last year was the debut East West Asheville Holiday Art Walk; this year the popular event returns. Shop businesses located in West Asheville from 355-520 Haywood Rd. and on Domino Lane (map available at Mimi Strang Studios, Crazy Green Studios, Steebo Design, Christopher Mello and others are included.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 12-8 p.m.

• The Womansong Arts and Crafts Fair includes cards, pottery, hand knits, fine art, baked goods, hot drinks, massage, jewelry and more, plus a raffle to benefit Womansong's New Start Program.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville. Info: 299-3110 or

• Mountain BizWorks' Holiday Party (in collaboration with the Asheville Artist Alliance) includes not just finger foods, drinks and music but a holiday art sale. During the party, Mountain Bizworks will honor and thank clients, staff and community members — and hand out awards (to attend the party, which is open to the public, RSVP to or 253-2834 ext. 27). Drop in at anytime to shop the art sale.

Thursday, Dec. 17, sale from 2-7 p.m., party from 5-7 p.m. at Jubilee! (46 Wall St., Asheville). or

Check the Xpress Community Calendar for complete listings.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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2 thoughts on “Shopping with meaning

  1. John Haldane

    Please add:


    Saturday, December 11th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

    Riceville Community Center
    (Beside the Fire Department)

    2251 Riceville Rd, Asheville

    Come have fun, get unique handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts and support your local crafters.



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