AKRON, Ohio — For more than a decade, Crafty Mart has been hosting handmade markets featuring dozens of local artists and small businesses. This year, their goal is to move into a permanent space to help local shops grow their businesses.
Crafty Mart has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund renovations for a permanent space inside the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron.
Bounce offered a 7,000 square foot space inside the facility for Crafty Mart to use rent-free for three years, but the marketplace would be responsible for renovations. The building was once home to the former B.F. Goodrich Tire Factory. Inside the space, layers of Akron’s tire history can be found on the walls. Carbon Black, used in the tire manufacturing process, covered the space.
"We've tried to clean it ourselves," said Cheryl Hopkins, market director with Crafty Market. "We've had a professional cleaner come in. It just needs more work and that's why we're doing this Kickstarter."
The funds from the Kickstarter campaign will help with the renovations which include professionally cleaning and sealing the floors. But the plan is to preserve some of its history. The new space will be named after the blanket of dust that covered the floor and walls.
"Carbon Black just made sense," said Hopkins. "All around the space, you see carbon black. We’re proud that we’re housed inside an old tire factory."
Hopkins said the ultimate goal is to create a place that helps local businesses grow.
"Our makers have struggled during COVID," said Hopkins. "They’re resilient. A lot of them have pivoted to online, but the truth of the matter is we’re all hungry to back to in-person markets. I think the shoppers like the experience."
Crafty Mart's plan is to open the doors to "Carbon Black" by late November for its annual holiday market.
Editor's note: the video in the player below is from a story published on March 24, 2021.