MAINE, USA — It's been a challenging year for Maine crafters and artisans amid the pandemic. Local markets, where many of these small businesses owners sell their goods, have been postponed or limited over the last year.
"This is our bread and butter, this what we all do," said Marrick Auger, owner of Marrick Metalsmith & Apothecary.
She was one of the dozens of small businesses owners out at Thompson's Point Sunday for the return of the Makers Market in Portland. The market returned Sunday for the first time in 2021, and for many sellers, it was their first time back.
"They're genuinely interested, and it's just nice to be able to share what I do," said Auger.
Many local artists rely on markets like these to interact with customers and sell goods.
"It's great just to be able to be out, and interacting with people again," said Sean Urquhart. Urquhart was out selling his goods for the first time at the Makers Market. During the pandemic, he used his free time to teach himself, and begin crafting 3D topography carvings.
"This is kind of my pandemic hobby. I bought the equipment and figured out what can I do with it, and this is kind of the idea that stuck," said Urquhart.
Others like Jami Bouley, owner of Wicked Awesome Quilts, was excited to show off his collection, which he used his free time during the pandemic to expand.
"I've spent the last few months just building my inventory up," said Bouley.
Some of the items created by Bouley are pandemic inspired as well. He used his quilting abilities to sew the face of Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah on to fabric and quilts.
"We contacted him and for permission, and he said 'absolutely, I think that's incredible, I'm humbled by the people of Maine,' he just asked that if we did stuff to not sell it, but to do it as a donation," said Bouley.
Bouley will now be selling those items as part of an online auction with all proceeds going to benefit the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland.
That virtual action will take place April 25 through May 1 on wickedawesomequilts.com.
"Packing up, getting ready to interact with my customers again, I've missed them for a year," said Auger.
The Makers Market returns to Thompson's Point on May 9. Crafters like Auger, Bouley, and Urquhart are optimistic for continued growth and success in 2021.