A new view of Handmade Arcade
CommonWealth Press has been a proud supporter and part of Handmade Arcade since damn near the beginning. Handmade arcade has grown.... and i mean GROWN. its amazing to actually take it in when you take a step back and look at it.
wait - if you dont know what handmade arcade is - click here and read up. it is one of the biggest craft markets in the country - its right here in pittsburgh - and has grown from the same, tiny, sincere core that i feel is the exact DIY spirit and ideals that we hold and grew this company from.
artists and like minds actually making something with their hands - trying to exist, sometimes against wave after wave of everything that this world can throw at you, sometimes even against logic.
CommonWealth Press has grown too. So this year we weren't just showing up as friends / vendors selling our shirts, we took a new role - as "official" sponsors. we have always helped out, tossed in free shirts when they needed it, printed posters, or aprons - but this year we signed up officially as sponsors - i really wanted to take it seriously. i honestly wanted to try to embrace what the hell this whole thing grew out of.
So this year i wanted to set up as simple as a table as i could and only sell something that was literally handmade end-to-end. something i thought up. something original - something local - and something still very "commonwealth press".
we have a product that we created from a sketch at a coffee shop during a conversation with my friend suz pisano. its a pillow. a pillow shaped like a pierogi - and this pierogi pillow was the funniest, dumbest, coolest, local-ist thing that i had thought up in a while. i couldnt stop cracking up about it so when i met suz at big dog coffee and said "hey suz, could you make me a pattern for this pillow", sketched it out for her - she did. then i asked my mom if i printed a bunch - would she sew them for me, and she did.
so my grand idea as a sponsor was to bring ONLY these handmade pillows to handmade arcade and see if the whole idea holds water.
yeah yeah - we are a tshirt shop and i probably missed out on a ton of sales - and people even told me it was a bad idea. BUT there are a ton of shirts at handmade arcade these days anyway and i REALLY wanted to test something.
so i planned ahead and we made as many as we possibly could - i rolled into the event by myself with as many as i could carry - i even vacuum packed them so i could carry even more than i could carry. i set up a really basic shop, a canvas table cloth, and piles of these pillows
...and then i damn near sold out.
this absurd pillow sold like crazy - and i talked with so many people not just about the pillow or the idea or how we made them but about "only in pittsburgh" or how their grandma made pierogi - or what they used to cut their own pierogi*. some even sent me pics of them MAKING pierogi w the pillow in the shot. they talked about family and their city and what they remember - what they learned. Even people i didn't talk to all smiled or laughed - pointed and them or touched them.
im amazed and the more i think about it the bigger it gets. so i guess it wasnt new view - maybe just way way bigger
yeah i know pittsburgh is changing (and we lost our warehouse due to condos BLAAAHHGRRRRR) and things arent what they used to be...but things like this keep me focused on what we are doing and why - it still feels really good and traditional and that "pittsburgh" as an adjective feeling . all i wanted to do was to see if i could sell something truly handmade and then did. this why we do it and what it means to be a small business and how important it all is overall. i sincerely connected with literally hundreds of people on the most basic level. over a damn pillow.
damnit pittsburgh, hold on a sec - you sonsabitches - i got something in my eye.
i wish you all a perfect holiday season. youve already made mine.
*wide mouth mason jar lid - most popular tool.
edit - to add a link to the pillows incase you want to buy one.
there arent many left - we are making more but holidays are rough