Call Us: 508-441-4622

A (permanent) home for artisans

File shot of CRAFT-O-RAMA at the corner of Union and Purchase Streets in 2014.

File shot of CRAFT-O-RAMA at the corner of Union and Purchase Streets in 2014.

So, how did you spend your weekend?

Groundwork! member Shelley Cardoos spent her weekend realizing a long-held goal – creating a permanent home for the artists and artisans of CRAFT-O-RAMA.

CRAFT-O-RAMA has been a popular and successful holiday pop-up shop for several years. It sells the work of local and regional artists, artisans and craftpeople. This past summer, it went big with an every Saturday artisan market in downtown New Bedford’s Custom House Square Park. (There are two more editions left; this Sat. Aug. 20 from 11-4 and Sat. Aug. 27 also from 11-4.)

But even as she’s had fun being outdoors all summer long, Cardoos was making plans to take it inside – and this past weekend dropped the good news on Facebook.

CRAFT-O-RAMA will return this November to the spot it occupied in 2014 as a holiday pop-up – the former Dusty’s Newsstand at the corner of Union and Purchase Streets – and stay long after the last Christmas tree is taken down. CRAFT-O-RAMA will remain up and the space will now be its permanent, year-round home.

This isn’t just good news to the dozens of artists and artisans who have participated in CRAFT-O-RAMA each holiday and all summer long (myself included with some custom-made historic street signs and more). It’s good news for downtown New Bedford as an empty storefront will now be home to a viable, vibrant business.

CRAFT-O-RAMA will join businesses like TL6 Gallery, 65 William Street Gallery, The Landing and many others to help establish that critical mass that’s so necessary to turn a place from a spot on the map into a regional destination – and that’s where New Bedford as a whole and in particular its downtown is heading with ever-growing urgency.

Any area undergoing transformation, redevelopment, renewal – call it what you like – sees ups and downs along that journey. But the trend line for downtown New Bedford and the entire city is clear: It’s heading up. Big-time.

The CRAFT-O-RAMA story may seem small but it’s not. In fact, it’s instructive.

It’s growth has been organic under the leadership of Shelley Cardoos. It’s planted roots in the community by following sound business principles. It’s never gotten ahead of itself – but hasn’t been afraid to keep pushing the boundary forward. And, as this latest news proves, it’s evolved when necessary.

CRAFT-O-RAMA is part of a dynamic whole. Cardoos is, as many readers may know, the leader of E for All SouthCoast, the entrepreneurial program that calls Groundwork! home. Shelley occupies a pivotal place in the community centered here as a leader and creator, facilitator and connector, entrepreneur and inspiration.

Taken together, just the initiative of Shelley alone adds up to a lot! Multiplied by many more at Groundwork! and across the city, it reaches something else: Critical Mass.

The artists and artisans of CRAFT-O-RAMA can help define that – in their new home very soon.

(If you’re interested in applying for a spot to sell at CRAFT-O-RAMA, go to their new website here.)

Steven Froias