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Patrons of the PawPaw festival relax on Sept 18, 2021. The festival is held at Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio and has been going on for 23 years.

Athens festivals aid small business sales

Clarification appended.

As some festivals, like the recent Pawpaw festival, many sellers and small businesses have seen an increase in their sales with the return to in-person operations.

Annabelle Heart, owner of Dumpster Score, a business that upcycles clothing, said the Pawpaw festival was good for sales and helped them get their name out.

Over 60 vendors attended the Pawpaw festival, according to the website. This provided customers with the opportunity to visit many different booths. 

Heart, who uses they/them pronouns, said they prefer in-person sales, which is a benefit of the festival environment. 

“In person is definitely my favorite way to sell because I'm able to talk to people one-on-one and tell them about a piece that they are interested in, like picking my brain about what I'm able to do,” Heart said.

Dumpster Score is not the only small business that benefits in-person sales. Thistlestitch, another upcycling business founded and run by Micaiah Clouse, also benefits from one-on-one time with the buyer.

“I think my mission is to talk about what it means to recycle clothing and ... to talk to them about what the clothes are made out of, I think that that really draws people in,” Clouse said. “I think, being there in person does really help sales a lot.”

Additionally, festivals provide sellers with opportunities to be vocal about their mission as a company and what they hope to bring to the marketplace.

“The importance of what it means to bring awareness to the problems of fast fashion is that recycling materials and even learning how to make your own clothes is way more approachable,” Clouse said. “It’s easier than you think, and (there are) steps that you can take as an individual who may not be ready to take time to make your own stuff, but small steps like learning how to mend your clothing and that kind of thing can really help with overconsumption.”

Heart shares a similar mindset with Clouse, and said they want people to feel “safe and connected” to what they’re wearing

“I just want people to feel right, like their most confident self, and like they're allowed to wear whatever they want that day or any day,” Heart said. "It doesn’t have to be Halloween. It doesn’t have to be a party. We can just go be ourselves.” 

In addition to the financial benefits festivals provide for vendors,  events also allow for artists to mingle and meet other business owners.

“There's this really intense culture of everybody walking around to each other's booths and individual signs, even buying goods, and everything like that, it’s really incredible,” Clouse said. “I've had multiple other vendors who have their own businesses come to me and tell me about sources that they get their fabric from … even give me boxes of stuff that they can't use and they think that I can use. It's just a really uplifting community.”


Clarification: A previous version of this article neglected to clarify that Heart uses they/them pronouns. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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