Sankat Co.’s natural leather goods.

Makers Arcade was founded in 2014, as a celebration of San Diego’s expanding artist and maker movement. Held twice a year in the airy and spacious Broadway Pier, Makers Arcade is the largest indie craft event held in the city, and brings together 150+ artisans and makers for a shopping event that captures the vibrant creativity of San Diego.

Cocktail camper serving up holiday drinks.

The atmosphere of the show is relaxed and casual, and the $5 entry fee provides several activities (in addition to shopping) to keep attendees busy all afternoon. The first 100 shoppers in the door receive a special swag bag filled with goodies provided by vendors, which makes for a compelling reason to show up early. One shopper mentioned to me that her swag bag contained handmade earrings, as well as a baby swaddle blanket, although the contents of each bag varies. Communal Coffee was on hand to offer coffee and tea, as well as baked goods to start the day. Food trucks and local restaurants like Buona Forchetta offer a variety of dishes in a charming outdoor food court, and a golden camper van has been retrofitted by You & Yours Distilling to create a bar that’s as beautiful as the cocktails they serve.

​Tongue Drums made by Sunset Projects using reclaimed wood.

Two long aisles stretch down the indoor pier, making a loop of booths that shoppers may browse. This show attracts a large number of families with kids, and many vendors offer work created with those customers in mind. Custom woodworking artisans Sunset Projects had a display of beautifully crafted wooden tongue drums — a fun musical toy for kids and adults alike. Sakura Bloom had a booth filled with their signature baby carriers and slings, and Tangerine Toys had a cute play area set up, complete with their wooden toys. Susie Ghahremani of boygirlparty offered organic baby onesies featuring her adorable animal illustrations, alongside her popular children’s book Stack the Cats.

Handmade soap from Mr. B’s Necessities.

Artists at Makers Arcade continue to focus on using natural materials and ingredients in their work, including Mr. B’s Necessities, who offer handmade soaps and other beauty products. The nature-friendly theme continued at the Native Poppy booth, where a team of friendly florists were on hand creating holiday wreaths from dried florals and fragrant greenery. Sankat Co.’s booth was beautifully natural — all wood, vegetable-tanned leather, and cotton fabric, in dusty shades reminiscent of the American Southwest.

Motivational cards from Get To Work Book.

The DIY mindset was evident at Makers Arcade, from vendors and attendees alike. One popular booth included The Crafters Box, a subscription box that offers high-quality crafting materials and tools, combined with an online workshop platform and maker events. Their booth featured all their recent workshop offerings, and attendees were invited to try their hands at a few of the projects during crafting demos. The Get To Work Book booth also offered DIY encouragement, via their graphic greeting cards, and a yearly planner that facilitates creative goal-setting.

For the holiday event, Gold Leaf created a beautiful lounge area where guests could relax and enjoy the live band playing holiday songs. A crafting area rounded out the offerings and offered free entertainment to kids and adults alike while they took a break from shopping.

Cotton & Flax’s textile home goods on display.

Shoppers checking out candles from Craft + Foster and ceramics from Case Ceramics.

While Makers Arcade is only a one day show, the vendors go all-out creating a unique environment for attendees to enjoy. Many vendors continue to innovate with their displays, and create installations typical of a larger event or a trade show, with hard walls, shelving, or other large-scale elements.

As the largest show of its kind in San Diego, Makers Arcade offers the opportunity for attendees to mix and mingle with area artists, and support the creative community by shopping local. Vendors enjoy the show’s festive mood, professional atmosphere, and affordable booth fee (especially when compared with larger, two-day shows). Makers Arcade will return in the spring for another beautifully curated show of local artisans’ creative work, interested makers should subscribe to their newsletter to learn more about signing up for the show.


About the Author:

Erin Dollar is an artist, surface pattern designer, and founder of Cotton & Flax, a collection of boldly patterned textile home decor that is designed and manufactured in California. Her work has been sold in 100+ retail shops, from indie boutiques, to large mass-market retailers like West Elm, CB2, and Need Supply. By growing her ecommerce business to accommodate wholesale buyers, she has built a sustainable business that generates income year-round, and built a platform for long-term growth. See her webinar, Wholesale for Craft Business, in our archives.

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