July 18, 2012

An Endless Supply of Free Craft Items ~ My "Pot of Gold"

What could be better for a crafter than a discount craft store five minutes from home?  When that store offers free supplies!

A new shipment of yarn is expected next week.
Elizabeth is looking forward to
checking out the new colors.
While I was on my Flip Flop Frenzy over the week of July 4th we were passing a craft store that I had not been in for several years (I have not been doing much sewing or crocheting--and living far out of town didn't make it easy to stop in).  We decided to run in and see if anything had changed since they had recently gotten a new owner and to get some inspiration for crafting items for shoe boxes.

The store looked basically the same:  bins of fabric, yarn, elastic, felt squares and more sold by the pound; beads, ribbon, notions, fabric, odd lots of supplies at rock bottom prices along with regular crafting and sewing supplies at discount prices.  The fabric and yarn selection is not massive, it's not a JoAnn's or Michael's when it comes to selection.  A friend with us picked up some items for a kids' program she is involved in but Sarah and I went home empty handed....except for a flier the new owner gave us.  Oh, and great excitement and exuberance on my part (ummmm, that's putting it mildly).

The new owner had started a program just a couple of weeks earlier where shoppers can buy their supplies for a product and if they return the finished product within 2 weeks to the store and allow them to display for one month the store refunds your money!

Along with free supplies she also allows crafters who sell their items to advertise their business.  In our current economy many customers have taken up selling handcrafted items.  Of course most all of my items are for my Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes so I asked if she would allow me to advertise OCC.  She said yes, that would be fine.  I asked if I could attach a brochure to my items and she said yes and that she'd be happy to have brochures on the counter, too (she was familiar with OCC) and suggested I advertise Simply Shoe Boxes, too.

So I've designed this little card that I attach with a ribbon to each item I make and leave in the store.  And as soon as we have several items we are going to fill a little plastic shoe box with them along with a stack of brochures and she will place it on the counter.  She went as far as to say if there some way I wanted to request donated items she was good with that....have to think on that one.

If any of you read my post last week Got Instructions?  No Thanks! you know this is a perfect program for my personality. I love to design new things and really don't like making the same thing over and over and over again.  And my frugal nature is being fed at the same time (I can get things I could never bring myself to pay for--little embellishments for example).  Free supplies to make a variety of items to be displayed...I'd say it was a perfect match.

My inspiration for my Felt Frenzy posts.
So last Friday my daughter and I went shopping for the first time.  I came home with things for headbands, a tote bag from upholstery fabric and three felt marble mazes (the store owner had fun picking out the fabric for these--I had picked up the appliques I wanted to use and she said she knew just the fabric for them, so I let her choose).  I also told her if there was anything she wanted to really promote I'd create something out of it [felt squares is her first request].  Elizabeth picked up Sugar and Cream yarn to make my Marble Bag and Pencil Pouch and she also picked up yarn for a toddler afghan.  We had a fun crafting weekend together.

As far as I know no one has done it yet, except for Elizabeth and I.  So at this point I don't think we could make too many items but I imagine at some point she will have to limit crafters to a certain number of items or dollar amount.  Now, to find unlimited, free time.

My daughter has decided to join me in crafting for OCC shoe box gifts with free items she can get at the craft store so I will be sharing some of her original designs here under the heading of "Designs by Elizabeth."  She basically doesn't like to design, she is a sustainer as I explained in my post "Got Instructions?  No Thanks!", but she is currently creating a diaper bag and other items for a little baby doll in my Operation Christmas Child stockpile.  She hasn't crocheted in years but is enjoying it.

I will have to work hard to keep Simply Shoe Boxes from becoming a crafting blog...but, what's a gal to do with free reign in a craft store?  Where you would start?  What would you make?

My first delivery along with Elizabeth's toddler afghan.
She had already taken in the two crocheted drawstring bags.


Terra H. said...

I think that is super neat and I wish you the best in your crafting endeavor.

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Terra! I had decided I wanted to include at least one handmade item in each box and was working on upcycling clothes, etc. for supplies. This is going to be so fun because I can also get all the fun accessories I could never afford.

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