Here’s How to Support Local Makers — By Shopping Online

The online spring marketplace from Pittsburgh's Handmade Arcade aims to help connect customers with local artisans.

Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh’s largest independent craft fair, is once again offering shoppers the chance to virtually connect with local artisans.  

After converting its annual winter event, typically held at Downtown’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center, to a virtual event last December because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Handmade Arcade is readying for its Virtual Spring Marketplace.

The online event takes place from April 30 through May 2 and features up to 50 makers who live or work in Allegheny County. 

Tricia Brancolini-Foley, Handmade Arcade’s executive director, says the market’s primary goal is to help connect consumers to artisans who have faced hardship during the pandemic.

“We are responding to the very real and continuing distress of makers in our area,” Brancolini-Foley says in a statement. “The pandemic has disrupted the infrastructure that allows independent creators to support themselves. Handmade Arcade is dedicated to helping makers weather this stressful period and ensuring that Pittsburgh has a robust creative economy once we get through this.”

With support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Handmade Arcade hosted its first virtual marketplace prior to the 2020 holiday shopping season. The event attracted more than 23,000 users and engaged visitors through interactive online features such Q&As, hands-on demonstrations and behind-the-scenes studio tours. 

For the Spring Marketplace, Brancolini-Foley says the goal is to continue engaging customers. 

“With the virtual marketplace this spring, we’re excited to build on the momentum and lessons of the holiday fair and continue to celebrate our local making community,” she says. “Pittsburgh has long been a hub of creativity, innovation, and community — and the pandemic hasn’t changed that. We are looking forward to another exceptional virtual event and the opportunity to uplift our friends and neighbors who make our world more beautiful, more funky, and more unique.”

For more information on the event, visit

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