Deluxe Winter Market offers holiday platform for the city's makers and crafters 

click to enlarge from left Deluxe Winter Market founders J.D. McCoy and Sara Cowan are immortalized in a piece by artist Reagan Kloiber. | Photo Deluxe OK, LLC / provided
  • from left Deluxe Winter Market founders J.D. McCoy and Sara Cowan are immortalized in a piece by artist Reagan Kloiber. | Photo Deluxe OK, LLC / provided

Deluxe Winter Market is a free, annual two-day event at which shoppers can buy arts, crafts, food items and clothing from the people who made them.

Though it has grown over the years, Deluxe co-founders J.D. McCoy and Sara Cowan said it is still very much the event that started when a few Etsy sellers decided to join forces to host an all-handmade show for the holidays.

“We wanted it to be affordable and family-friendly, and we’ve kept it that way. It has just become more fun, more of an event that people really get excited about,” Cowan said.

Some even plan Thanksgiving weekend around the event.

“We are very reverent of that. We want to make it worth everyone’s time,” she said.

It takes work to plan a show that fills that many needs. Some shoppers try to find all their holiday gifts at Deluxe, so Cowan and McCoy strive to find a vendor balance that appeals to many demographics.

“The only thing we have a policy against,” Cowan said, “would be tutus.”

click to enlarge metal-feather.jpg

Head start

About 70 makers, artists and crafters will sell at Deluxe this year, which runs 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Leadership Square, 211 N. Robinson Ave.

More than 100 applied.

Cowan and McCoy begin work in late spring, McCoy said. By mid-summer, they go over the list of potential artists and decide who makes the cut.

“J.D. and I are always looking for products that are heirloom-quality, a tiny bit subversive or truly unique,” Cowan said.

Deluxe shoppers are purchasing originals, which has helped earn the market a number of dedicated fans.

McCoy said attendance might have dropped a little last year because of the ice storm, but overall, it has grown every year since it opened. The people who find their way there return annually.

“We definitely see return shoppers from year to year. Many of them make sure to be in line early at the door to get a goody bag,” she said.

This year, the first 50 shoppers in line when Deluxe opens on Friday and Saturday will receive a bag.

Free stuff is nice, but McCoy said the draw really is finding one-of-a-kind presents.

“Many of them also wait for Deluxe to do their Christmas shopping because they want to get those unique, locally made gifts for the people in their lives,” she said. “Our shoppers will come to the Deluxe booth and ask about that artist that had such and such last year and whether or not they are here this year.”

New blood

Keeping successful previous vendors and mixing in new ones to keep the market fresh is a balancing act.

While Portland-based zine publisher Microcosm Publishing and Oklahoma-made Sweet Prairie Home are returning, 2016 is the first year for artist Gene Smith of IronMan Metal Art to show at Deluxe.

After more than a decade working for Halliburton, Smith was laid off. But rather than dwell on the negative, he chose to seize the opportunity to fulfill his passion for metal art.

His Oklahoma Sioux and Mississippi Choctaw ancestry led him to an appreciation for traditional headdresses.

“Actually, about seven or eight months ago, I was looking to purchase a metal headdress. I found one by an artist in San Antonio, but it was only seven inches tall,” he said.

As a welder, he made his own.

“There’s a lot of power in looking at a headdress,” Smith said. “So right now, I’m very focused on that, but in another seven or eight months, I may be on to the next thing.”

Deluxe is an opportunity to sell some of his work — he also creates metal feathers and medicine wheels — but he’s most interested in showing off his talent and seeing what others can do.

“I think everybody possesses a gift,” Smith said. “Being able to go to different vendor shows like Deluxe, I feel blessed. I want to show everybody my talent.”

McCoy said showcases like Deluxe are important for artists and shoppers alike.

“Deluxe has managed to draw the kind of shoppers that know the value of handmade, local and unique gifts,” she said. “This means that when a shopper has feedback about a product, it’s probably going to be a valuable insight.”

McCoy said people seek out markets like theirs because many other craft shows allow non-handmade items, imported goods and multilevel marketing representatives.

“This is exactly the kind of show you start to look for, where you’re competing with your peers and not cheap prices or gimmicks,” she said.

One big change since they started Deluxe is the founders have taken more of a supporting role for other artists, Cowan said.

“J.D. and I used to try to have personal booths at the show where we sold our own things, but it was just impractical. We focus on supporting our artists, because the most important thing is for them to have a successful show,” she said. “That has always been the top priority.”

Visit deluxeok.net.

Print Headline: Bright weekend, After Black Friday passes, Deluxe Winter Market offers holiday shoppers handmade gifts direct from the artists.

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