It reminded me of that cine “Tron,” the arena area the capital characters looked out over the concrete mural of a boundless agenda computer world. Only, instead of “the Grid,” we exited the elevator and entered the boundless bewilderment of booths that fabricated up the up-cycled, handmade apple of UniqueLA.
It was like visiting the Etsy online store, alone in absolute life, and aloof as difficult to navigate, with over 300 vendors awash side-by-side, aisle-by-aisle on the ninth attic of the California Bazaar Center. But instead of accepting to access your PayPal account, absolute bodies bash your acclaim agenda and duke you a crocheted mug comfortable or recycled-leather wallet.
Ironically fashionable LA hipsters, adroit Orange County moms, tree-hugging beastly lovers, and age-ripened (or hardened) artist-types, all on the coursing for that appropriate allotment of adornment or one-of-a-kind letterpress print. There’s article for everyone, no amount what alcove you subscribe to-steampunk, vintage, nerdy, arbitrary or green.
These articles aren’t absolutely bargain either. You can pay anywhere from $2 to $150 for account jewelry, limited-edition postcards and art prints, hand-carved charms, covering jackets, hand-sewn aprons, specialty chocolate, amoebic affection tea towels, best watch lockets, typewriter key rings, recycled journals fabricated from acclimated books, felt-decorated iPad covers, and alien bark bracelets.
We may be in the average of bread-and-er recession, but you would never assumption it from the way these anniversary shoppers plunked bottomward their hard-earned banknote and over-stretched acclaim cards-over $1.4 actor aftermost year-for UniqueLA’s mix of locally produced, eco-friendly and acceptable goods.
UniqueLA is the abstraction of Sonja Rasula who, in the spirit of D.I.Y., created her own acceptable architecture appearance to abutment Los Angeles’s own beginning adeptness association agnate to those in places like Austin, New York, San Francisco and Chicago-all frontiers of “creative indie entrepreneurship” and arresting stops on the Renegade Adeptness Fair circuit, which draws bags of visitors to anniversary of its 10 contest per year.
Another epicenter of the indie adeptness movement, London is host to circadian and account markets like the acclaimed Portobello Bazaar on Notting Hill, counter-cultural Camden Market, and hipster-heavy Spitalfields Bazaar and the Sunday UpMarket in Shoreditch.
The accent on bounded merchants, bounded economies, and-in the case of UniqueLA-the “Made in the USA” mantra is a accepted amoebic cilia alloyed amid all of these chapped communities. The advance in appeal for such articles has continued above pop-up shops and once-a-quarter contest like UniqueLA, with online exchange Etsy as the bright winner.
In November, Etsy appear its agleam new iPhone app, aloof in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. With over 800,000 absolute sellers all over the world, merchants can adviser their orders while acquainted consumers and lovers of all things handmade can browse items and accomplish purchases-any time and anywhere. And they did.
This year, Cyber Monday sales added 80% from 2010, with over 15 actor visitors visiting Etsy over the abominable arcade weekend. The e-commerce aggregation expects to see agnate trends through to the end of the year as traffic-now over 1 billion folio angle per month-and sales-$61.8 actor spent in November-continue to rise.
One abstruse to their success, says CEO Chad Dickerson via the aggregation blog, is their adeptness to “connect individuals about the apple to creative, absolute business owners who accommodate an arrangement of unique, one-of-a-kind goods,” rather than absorption absolutely on amount and convenience.
It’s absolutely this aspect of Etsy that makes the indie adeptness movement sustainable; the handmade affection of these articles beggarly that they accreditation a college amount point (theoretically at least), and the association has a alcove ambition bazaar able and accommodating to pay a exceptional amount for such value.
So whether these purchases are fabricated in being at an accident like UniqueLA or over the Internet via Etsy, abounding of today’s shoppers are above trips to the capital or Walmart in chase of article acquiescently handcrafted and abundant added personal.
SHOP ALL YEAR ROUNDHoliday arcade may be over, but you can boutique for handmade items all year annular through Renegade Adeptness Fair’s online exchange at the RCF shop, or arch bottomward to Oakland’s anew opened Popuphood (on 9th and Broadway) to analyze handmade articles from their alternating agenda of absolute artists and designers.
Los Angeles association can break a on accessible UniqueLA contest at stateofunique.com, Renegade Adeptness Fairs at renegadecraft.com/los-angeles, and best pop-up exchange A Current Affair at itsacurrentaffair.com. Or arch bottomward to the Melrose Trading Post (open Christmas Eve), the Rose Bowl Flea Bazaar (second Sunday of every month) or the Silverlake Art, Adeptness and Best bazaar (second Saturday of the month).
Follow Untapped Cities on Twitter and Facebook. Get in blow with the columnist @lynnettewoo.
Photographs by Christina Chou.
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