After 48 years it’s hard to keep an event as amazing as Artisans’ Alley down, and fortunately the organizers figured out a way to still make it happen this year. Kudos to Cathy Gabriel, the head organizer, Jenn Rentschler, the vendor coordinator, and their team for all the hard work to put together this COVID-safe event. It’s also a much-needed fundraiser for the school district’s Band and Choir Boosters, who rely on the proceeds to help offset costs for music students. Rentschler says that they typically raise $20,000 each year, but with only half the vendors, 80 in total, they would have to wait and see the success of this year’s event.
“We are thankful we had the opportunity to make this happen, amidst all that is going on,” commented Rentschler. She highlighted that they required masks, had contact tracing, temperature checks, limited shoppers, wider aisles, and distancing between vendors. She said that the vendors were especially thankful for the opportunity to participate, especially since so many other events have been cancelled throughout the county. Some vendors have been participating in the event for more than 25 years, but some new businesses also joined in this year.
I volunteered for the first shift at the entrance and easily discovered that the shoppers were so happy to be able to do their Christmas shopping there. This year, the organizers decided to do away with the mandatory entrance fee and made it a voluntary donation instead. But from the generosity I saw, hopefully the band and choir funds will add up quickly.
Talking to Steve Tucker of the ever popular Simply Cheddar Hand Made Cheese Ball shop, I learned he has been coming to the event for 10 years. He said all his other major events got cancelled this year, so he was thankful that Artisans’ Alley found a way to happen. With a huge following in Coronado, he was worried when his electricity went out earlier this week and he couldn’t make as many cheese balls as he had anticipated. He persevered and was there selling to all his loyal clients and many new ones as well. I went home with a yummy cheese ball for my family to share.
First time vendor and Navy wife, Emily Brown of MLE Paper, had a fun array of cards, paper goods and jewelry. She shared how she started making cards in 2016, after being encouraged by her students in a hand lettering class. More recently, she has been creating jewelry from sea glass she collected while in Spain and highlighted that she is inspired by nature. I love cards and found the perfect one to send to a friend.
Julie Freeman of Coronado and her friend Sheila Dowe are the duo behind Succulent Sisters. They shared that they have been crafting together for years and both love succulents, so they scoured their homes and found interesting containers and filled them with beautiful succulent arrangements, and this was the first event at which they had sold. I picked up an adorable succulent filled vase for my kitchen.
With a wide array of items from baskets, jewelry, Christmas, kitchen towels, rum cakes, nautical-themed, candles, cutting boards, art, signs, clothing, soap, and the new fashion statement . . . masks, Artisans’ Alley was the place to shop for unique handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list, and goodies for yourself as well. Let’s hope next year is bigger and better than ever.