About 90 vendors filled Burlington Memorial Auditorium for the annual Christmas craft show Sunday, offering residents a chance to shop small.
Last Christmas season, online retailer Amazon reported that online shoppers with premium memberships purchased more than 1 billion items from the web giant during the shopping season.
Shoppers today can purchase items from nearly anywhere in the world and have gifts shipped to their doorsteps in a matter of days.
However, Brenda Martin and those at the craft show Sunday understand the advantages of a handmade or locally purchased gift.
“It makes it more personal,” said Martin, who sells locally made and antique items at Junque to Gems in Fort Madison.
She passed her creativity down to her children, who now make and sell handmade metal signs.
For many, the craft fair is a tradition.
Cheryl Kozak has been selling homemade quilts, embroidered sweatshirts, blankets and cell phone purses at the same table for eight years.
Kozak started sewing when she was 11 years old. After retiring from her career as a printer, she chose to make the hobby into a business, “Kozy Originals.”
“When I retired I told my husband I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do, which is put quilts together for people and do specialized embroidery,” said Kozak.
When residents do even a fraction of their holiday shopping locally at places like the Christmas craft show, they are supporting the passion of artists like Kozak.
Shopping small also keeps more money in the Burlington community.
Margie Vorwerk makes flower lawn ornaments out of colorful dinner plates and tea cups. She purchases all the supplies to make the flowers locally, sells them locally, and will likely spend her profits here, too.
Her husband Paul added that buying similar looking lawn ornaments on Amazon cost nearly double by the time shipping costs are calculated.
For Sunny Lane, of Sunny’s Boutique, it comes down to customer interaction. When people purchase items in person, she can tell them about each product.
She offers firsthand reviews of much of what she sells, telling those who pass through her racks what the best season is to wear certain knit socks or the soothing effects of goat’s milk soap.
The wood-burned crafts at Jessica Polson’s table are one-of-a-kind. The young artist rarely makes duplicates of any items, ranging from tree ornaments to cutting boards and wooden spoons.
Tamara Nunez bought some ornaments that read “dog mom” and “rescue mom” from Polson’s table.
“We like to support the local people," Nunez said of her purchases at the fair. "It’s all about that.”