South Florida’s popular craft fair, bazaar rooted in Delray Beach – Sun Sentinel

Stitch Rock rolled into Delray Beach recently with its eclectic mix of handmade crafts, opening its gates to a line of shoppers that curled around Old School Square.

Since the bazaar began nine years ago with 45 vendors, more than 80 now overflow the Vintage Gym and spill onto the lawn. The market has grown into South Florida’s largest independent craft fair.

Stroll through the aisles and everything from cocktail bitters to wooden bow ties is on display. Trendy home décor, custom jewelry and one-of-a-kind clothing are popular.

“Locally, this is the show to be at,” said Allison Kapner, a West Palm Beach attorney who splits her time between practicing law and selling vintage kitsch and collectibles.

Lara Bizzotto, vending as Coven of Craft, stood by an assortment of macramé, quilts and hand-hewn art. The full-time nurse and mother has watched Stitch Rock evolve.

“It’s changed. It’s larger. There are more people and more vendors,” she said. “It’s different every year with different things as everybody develops in their craft.”

Stitch Rock founder Amanda Linton said, “A lot of people look for their favorites every year.”

She curates the show with an eye toward variety, selecting a blend of new and returning vendors to keep the merchandise fresh and familiar at the same time.

“We look for unique items that we haven’t seen before,” she said. “Well made, well constructed items – stuff that we would buy.”

Linton hatched the idea for the bazaar when Etsy.com, a peer-to-peer shopping website, generated an online marketplace for handmade and vintage wares.

“Etsy came along and people were doing cool things,” Linton said. “It opened up the world.”

Taking it a step further, she envisioned a “real life” Etsy where people could interact and touch the merchandise.

“The Web is so cold,” Linton said. And she could sweeten the lineup with edibles and her specialty cupcakes.

“I didn’t know if anyone would come to the first one,” Linton said. She was pleasantly surprised from the start. Over the years, she estimates the craft fair has quadrupled in attendance.

Many of Stitch Rock’s sellers maintain an Etsy.com site to sustain sales. Still, the craft fair adds a much needed connection to the community.

“This is better than the Web,” said Lily Rothlein, maker at Industrial Home Bazaar. She credits the festival for getting her out of the workshop to socialize.

Linton’s current worry is that Stitch Rock has outgrown its space, but she likes the location and the city’s support of independent designers. Plans are already underway for a blowout 10th anniversary affair.

“It was a little idea that turned into an event that people look forward to every year,” Linton said. “It enables them to do what they do.”