This is the story of Avard, Oklahoma, a town that knows how to make something out of nothing. Often listed as a ghost town, their population was never more than 300, and has declined since the 1950s. Avard is the kind of creative place where they wanted to raise money to restore their little lake that had dried up, so they sold dehydrated fishing licenses–good for all the dehydrated fish you could catch from the dry lake. Something from nothing!
In the 2000s, almost all of the 33 residents played a role in the Avard Folk Festival to bring cowboy and pioneer folk arts and crafts to life. Over 100 artists came from all across Northwest Oklahoma. Traditional musicians performed while craftspeople showcased their rope making, candle making, quilting and blacksmithing. They put on a trail ride, a dutch oven cook off, and an old fashioned baking and canning fair.
One of the organizers, Donna Schmidt said their goal was to preserve these arts by supporting the current artists, as well as providing exposure and hands-on experience to everyday people in a fun setting. They attracted over 500 attendees to their little “ghost town” and kept it going for several years.
That’s a terrific example of using what you already have, right down to the dry lake bed. In our Idea Friendly Method, this is the Take Small Steps part, and it focuses on creating more opportunities for your craft entrepreneurs.
This video clip is a sample from the SaveYour.Town video on rural craft entrepreneurship: Crafters Create Prosperity.
Your town has people and assets to build on. You have local crafts, local arts, and people who make things. We’re going to give you practical steps you can take to use what you have and what you make to create prosperity.
More articles for arts and crafts entrepreneurship
Overcoming the Challenges of Craft Vending in Small Towns – Jeriann Ireland shares her story as she steps up from a craft hobby towards a craft business.
10 Tips for Increasing Your Sales at Art and Craft Shows – micro biz enthusiast Glenn Muske has 10 tips to get more money coming at shows.
Donna Maria on wholesaling your products – helping you think through the process of growing beyond shows.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.