Crofter earns top retailer award from Craft Alliance

Katie Tower
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SACKVILLE, N.B. – A downtown gift shop has been recognized for excellence and leadership in supporting the Atlantic Canadian craft industry.

The Crofter Gifts & Toys was named one of the Top 5 Craft Retailers by the Craft Alliance during an awards ceremony held earlier this month in conjunction with the Atlantic Craft Trade Show in Halifax.

The Outstanding Retailer award honours individuals or companies who support and contribute to the growth of the industry by assisting the development of craft and giftware producers and their product lines.

April MacKinnon, a local businesswoman herself, nominated The Crofter for the award and said co-owner/operator Heather Gilbert-Patterson and her staff are well deserving of the honour.

“She’s as loyal to the craft community as they are to her,” said MacKinnon.

She said in New Brunswick, in particular, there are very few people, particularly those in retail, who put so much support behind small-scale producers/artisans. So Sackville is fortunate to have that in The Crofter.

“The number and the scope she manages to stock in there is amazing. She really takes the time to source that out.”

Gilbert-Patterson said it’s always been important to her, as a local entrepreneur herself, to support other local businesspeople – including local crafters and artists. In fact, The Crofter carries the work of 39 artisans from the Atlantic region. From woodworking to jewelry, from furniture to bath products, from pottery to knitting, and much more, The Crofter offers an array of locally-made products that appeal to just about everyone.

“I try to bring in items I hope my customers will be interested in,” she said.

Gilbert-Patterson said although it does take more effort sometimes to source out local products rather than have them imported in bulk, it’s something that has been important to her and she is pleased with the “symbiotic relationship” that has come from her supporting Atlantic craftspeople and them supporting her.

She said supporting local producers is good for the economy, helps nurture community, helps invest in local jobs, and helps the environment. As well, the crafts and giftware they produce are not only unique but are also of high quality and well designed, she said.

Also bringing home an award from the Atlantic Craft Trade Show was Mackinnon, who won the ‘Best Booth’ award for her Anointment display throughout the weekend.

MacKinnon said she was pleased with the acknowledgement from the judges, who praised her for the “cohesive package” she had put together at her booth – from the branding, to the backdrop, to the packaging of her skincare products.

“Visual merchandising is not easy for me . . . so it was a really nice surprise,” said MacKinnon of the honour.

Organizations: Craft Alliance, Outstanding Retailer

Geographic location: Halifax, Atlantic, New Brunswick

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