Crafty Mart Named Finalist for Artplace America’s 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund to Create Retail Incubator Space for Makers

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Crafty Mart Named Finalist for Artplace America’s 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund to Create Retail Incubator Space for Makers

Extremely competitive national grant program will consider 70 projects

Today, Crafty Mart was named among the 70 finalists for ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund. ArtPlace selected these proposals from 987 applications, making our project to create a retail incubator space one of just 7% of the projects across the country to make this cut.

ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund is a highly competitive national program, receiving 987 applications this year. Investing money in communities across the country in which artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity help drive community development change across 10 sectors of community planning and development: agriculture and food; economic development; education and youth; environment and energy; health; housing; immigration; public safety; transportation; or workforce development.

Two projects from Akron were chosen as finalists. If either project is named a winner, it would be the first time that a project in Akron is awarded the prestigious and highly competitive grant since its conception in 2011.


The challenge identified in our proposal is that there are too many empty storefronts downtown, and not enough opportunity for creative entrepreneurs to activate those space. With the help of the city and county administration, we're hoping to secure a building downtown with 2-3 storefronts that will serve as a launchpad for creatives to open a brick and mortar retail store.

 Illustration by Gregory J. Peterson

Illustration by Gregory J. Peterson

“When clustered together, customer facing retail spaces promote walkability, activate connecting public spaces and make cities better places to live and work, which will help Akron attract and retain the next generation of young leaders,” says Executive Director Brit Charek, “We already see clusters of small businesses popping up downtown over the past few years. We’d like to build on that momentum.”

The City of Akron has admitted to having a problem fighting off the epidemic of the shrinking Rust Belt City with the population in steady decline, and released a report titled Planning to Grow Akron where they outlined a strategy not just to stop the decline in population but to increase the population size, which is why both the Mayor of Akron and the County Executive have endorsed Crafty Mart’s plan.

In addition to solving the problem of empty storefronts downtown, Crafty Mart is excited to provide opportunities to the artists and makers they work with regularly.

“We want to create a pathway for the makers who pop up sporadically at events like Crafty Mart to eventually land in their own brick and mortar storefront,” says Charek.

“But we won’t just hand anyone the keys,” says Director of Education Marissa McClellan. “There will be an application process, and the makers chosen will go through a fellowship program with a custom curriculum and mentorship aspect. We want them to take this opportunity to grow their business, get a head start on sustainability, and gain the skills to be successful in their own storefront, as well as have access to resources when things get tough.”

Check out our original video pitch! 

Thanks Tim Fitzwater for your video magic! ✨

“The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that reflects the full breadth of our country’s arts and cultural sector, as well as the community planning and development field,” said ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres. “Knowing that these projects, and the hundreds of others who applied, are using arts and culture strategies to make the communities across this country healthier and stronger is inspirational.”

“We believe that these projects, when added to our tremendously strong portfolio of demonstration projects, will inspire, equip and connect members of the arts and culture field, the community planning and development field and those who are working to make healthy and equitable communities creatively across the country,” said ArtPlace America Executive Director Jamie Bennett.

After a strenuous application process this summer, winners for the National Creative Placemaking Fund will be announced in December. We'll be on pins and needles until then!

The complete list of the 2017 applicants for ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund may be found here.

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Shopper Story: Selah Ashe


Shopper Story: Selah Ashe



Age: 23

Profession: Patient Service Representative, Crafty Mart Marketing Intern, Small Business Owner

When I first got to the pop up shop at Thirsty Dog, I was so grateful that the weather was cooperating (for once) but I was also thrilled to see some of the vendors that had not been at the last event.

My first stop was the Regeeked table. There I found so many cool wallets and accessories that were stitched and made from repurposed comic books! My inner nerd fell in love with all her products but I was particularly intrigued by her immense button assortment. It literally took me about 7 minutes to make a final decision. I decided to go with a Powerpuff Girls and an Adventure time button. I’m sad to say that my Adventure Time button fell off my jacket and into the abyss. :( However, I believe that was the universe working its magic so I would return to this wonderful shop and purchase more of her amazing one-of-a-kind items!

I also stopped at The Bom truffles table. I had the chance to taste so many delicious alcohol-infused truffles. I also learned about their truffle making parties which I might just have to invest in. Who knew blackberry wine paired so well with dark chocolate?!

After going through all the vendors, I worked up an appetite and stopped by the Smash Time Food truck. There I picked up some Rockefeller Frites which were to die for! They were made fresh and hot and they were so good, I almost burned my taste buds off but trust me when I say it was totally worth the burn!  

With the pop up shop at Thirsty Dog being my second Crafty Mart event to date, I must say I am honestly impressed with everything they do to show love to small business owners and the makers of this great state we live in. I am so proud to be apart of something so magical and I’m sure all of or vendors would say the same! I’m oh-so-excited to volunteer for the next event!

Did you miss out on Crafts & Drafts? Save the date for September 16th when we'll return to Thirsty Dog Brewing Company!

Thanks for sharing your story, Selah!

Check out our other Shopper Stories here!

Are you interested in sharing your shopper story on the Crafty Mart blog? Email us at with the words "Shopper Story" in the subject line!


Shopper Story: Sarah Gott


Shopper Story: Sarah Gott

This is another in a series of Shopper Stories in which Crafty Marters share their adventures and fun finds at one of our Markets.

Here is Sarah's story from her visit to The Mom & Pop Shoppe!

  Name:   Sarah Gott   Profession:   Art Educator & Freelance Artist

Name:  Sarah Gott

Profession:  Art Educator & Freelance Artist

Ahhh Crafty Mart on a gorgeous spring day! Meeting up with friends and going downtown to peruse handmade treasures!

I’m a creature of habit so I always go see what delectable delights Diana from Sugar Bomb Confections has to offer first!


I usually snag one her homemade red velvet marshmallows or one her amazing sea salted caramel macaroons but this time around I grabbed one of her smores bars. Not only is everything she makes absolutely delicious but her presentation of is always so pretty!

After chatting with Diana and exploring all the other amazing vendors at The Summit Art Space I made my way over to Musica where Perler Tricks instantly caught my eye!

As a fellow Art Educator I’ve spent many days ironing fuze bead creations. This guy has taken it to a whole other level!  The patience and time that goes into Brians work is stunning! Not to mention they are so fun and clever! I mean… Yoda earrings, or a pair of Batman and Joker Magnets for the fridge!! You just  can’t pass this stuff up!

Then all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I glanced upon a wondrous emporium of furry monsters, snails, mice and one fierce unicorn!

Clara  from C. M. Manfredi’s Emporium of Wonders has literally created her own world of fascinating creatures, I love that she was kind enough to let me pick up and hold all of them. These soft little cuties are made from Polymer clay and the attention to detail is unbelievable

There really is something magical about Crafty Mart and how it brings so many people together! I can’t wait to check Crafty Mart at Howe Meadows on June 24th.  Hope to see you there!

Thanks for sharing your story, Sarah! You can follow Sarah's adventures on Instagram at @rah_rah_rowdy. 

Check out our other Shopper Stories here!

Are you interested in sharing your shopper story on the Crafty Mart blog? Email us at with the words "Shopper Story" in the subject line!


Crafty Mart Team Profiles: Julian Curet


Crafty Mart Team Profiles: Julian Curet

Team Crafty Mart is growing! Welcome our new Development and Grantwriting Intern Julian.


I’m your friendly neighborhood intern! Thanks to Crafty Mart and the EX[L] Center at the University of Akron, I have a great opportunity to gain experience with content and grant writing. Currently, I am an English and anthropology double major at UA. After I graduate in the spring of 2018, I plan to attend Kent State University and earn a graduate degree in cultural anthropology. My goal is to use writing to conduct research (or help gain funding for it), and produce factual but accessible content that helps people understand people. That will be my superhero job. In the meanwhile, grant writing for meaningful projects will help make the world a better place one word at a time.

Going to school full-time is only a part of what I do. I am also a husband, father of four children, and a musician. I love singing, playing guitar, and songwriting. You can find my music online and sometimes I play out in the area. My wife, Nicole, is the Generosity Impact Director at Domestic Violence Project, Inc. in Canton. Our children are spread out over high school, middle school, and elementary school. They keep us pretty busy. And, I would be nothing without my family. It’s really because of their support that I am able to go back to school.

I look forward to learning from, working with, and being a part of the Crafty Mart team and contributing to all the great work they do in Akron!

Ever wondered about the rest of the people behind Crafty Mart? Revisit the rest of our Team Profiles here!


5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Trip to the 5th Annual Mom & Pop Shoppe


5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Trip to the 5th Annual Mom & Pop Shoppe

We are so pumped about our annual spring show! This year, The Mom & Pop Shoppe is timed perfectly-- it's the day before Mother's Day, just in time for graduation party season and Father's Day too!



This year, we are offering early bird access tickets! For a $7 ticket, you can beat the crowd. You’re also guaranteed a hand screenprinted canvas (thanks Champaign Paper!) shopping bag full of coupons and swag from local businesses and a free drink! (Choose from a coffee from Akron Coffee Roasters, a mimosa or a NORKA soda or water.)

You can purchase tickets here, and there will be a limited amount available at the door if they don’t sell out first! Early bird ticketholders must enter at Summit Artspace to check in.

Don't stress about heading downtown. There's plenty of parking and it's free on the weekends! We recommend the lot between Summit Artspace and the Akron Art Museum!


We're once again taking over Musica, the Akron Art Museum and Summit Artspace! Where ever you enter, you'll receive a "passport card" and once you get a stamp from all three venues, you can claim a free raffle ticket to win one of many awesome gift baskets full of handmade goodies! You can also purchase additional raffle tickets. The raffle is right next to the Crafty Mart bar on the 3rd floor of Summit Artspace.

One of the coolest things about shopping at Crafty Mart is that you can purchase items directly from the people who make them. Have you been following our vendor spotlight posts on our blog? You can

And here is a complete list of vendors and where they're located so that you can plan out your shopping list!

3. EAT!

We are sad to acknowledge that this is the first Crafty Mart in a post-Urban Eats Akron, but we're excited to welcome Ms. Julie's Kitchen who will be setting up in their old space at Musica! Ms. Julie offers amazing snacks and meals that are exotic and vegan-friendly!

Western Fruit Basket will be set up at Summit Artspace, and the Akron Art Museum's cafe has amazing soups, wraps, and a great selection of beer and wine.

Sweet Mary's Bakery and Akron Coffee Roasters are both open for your breakfast needs, too!


We're offering a series of DIY workshops throughout the event. Choose to make Beeswax Candles, carve a Block Print stamp and make a masterpiece,  paint your favorite New Wave artist with smARTStudio Akron, or drop your kids off to make Whimsical Windchimes!


Beyond that, the Akron Art Museum Galleries are open throughout the event! Check out their latest exhibitions. We highly recommend Please Touch for a family-friendly interactive art experience.

And the galleries at Summit Artspace are open, too! Make sure to check out the exhibition Summit Artspace Period featuring the work of artists based in the building.


Why not spend the whole day enjoying our beautiful downtown? Take a visit to the Akron Children's Museum or the Nightlight Theater, make plans for dinner at one of our amazing downtown restaurants like Nuevo, Crave, Bricco or the Lockview.

Apotheclaire is having some really cool pop ups from Noon-4pm with artist and calligrapher, Karrie Miller and Health & Wellness Coach Hannah Troyer.

After the market, stay for a show at Blu Jazz, Jilly's Music Room or head to None Too Fragile Theater in the valley!

Who says there's nothing cool to do in Akron?! For more exciting stuff, check out SummitLive365's website where you can search events by date or category.