You asked, and they listened.
The Makers Collective flagship event Indie Craft Parade, which has been bursting at the seams of the 19,000-square-foot Huguenot Mill since the first annual festival in 2010, is moving out of downtown Greenville to a 25,000-square-foot location in Taylors for its popular makers market. The event will be held this year from Sept. 14-16.
“This is year nine and we’re going toward our 10th year for it to be a really big deal, and we knew we couldn’t do that downtown,” says Lib Ramos, creative director of Makers Collective.
The newly announced Southern Bleachery development in front of what is known as Taylors Mill, 250 Mill St., Taylors, will be the new home for the festival in a redeveloped warehouse designed specifically by the developer, Lawrence Black, with Indie Craft Parade in mind. Black and his wife, Ashleigh, also operate the Southern Bleachery event venue inside Taylors Mill proper, and this new development on the adjacent property will be an extension of those services.
The new space, which is under construction and will be completed by the end of August, will have wider aisles and be completely tech-friendly, with adequate Wi-Fi and power sources at each booth, and also include a full, cutting-edge commercial kitchen designed by Bacon Bros. Public House chef Anthony Gray and COO Jason Callaway.
The Huguenot Mill space maxes out at 7,000 people, which is the number the festival typically draws each year, and the new goal is 10,000 attendees.
“Lines around the block is just kind of standard,” Ramos says. “And we get feedback about that every year, but up until this point, there hasn’t been anything we could do about it. Last year we identified, ‘It’s time to do something about it.’”
Ramos says they understand moving the event out of downtown Greenville could elicit some negative feedback.
“We’ve heard enough complaints about the line. We think people will be excited that we’re doing something about it, but there is that shift from a very familiar part of downtown to a less familiar part of Greenville,” Ramos says.
But that is also a benefit, she says. Taylors Mill, which houses 13 Stripes Brewery and the soon-to-open The Farehouse restaurant in the former Due South Coffee Roasters space, is also home to dozens of artists who would benefit greatly from the kind of publicity Indie Craft Parade will bring, along with the thousands of people who attend the annual festival.
“There’s a whole new set of restaurants and hotels and shops and everything that is going to be affected by the move, and that’s fun, and completely out of our control, but we know that’s a thing,” Ramos says.
During the last eight years, The Makers Collective had been casually looking around and keeping their ears to the ground for any new location options, Ramos says. They considered the TD Convention Center and any other option that would provide a large enough space while continuing to maintain the overall feel and aesthetic of the festival. While looking at Taylors Mill, which is largely still undeveloped with wide open spaces that could host events, the new Southern Bleachery space was mentioned as an option.
“It’s a really big gamble for us,” Ramos says. “Basically any other space at the TD Convention Center is ready to go. This is being built now for our event. But it’s exciting, and we think it’s definitely worth that gamble because it’s 25,000 square feet, it’s laid out very conducively to a trade show kind of market, and one of the biggest things that we’re excited for is that the space is built to accommodate trade show specs. So, where at the Huguenot Mill, the options we could give our artists were 6-foot booths and 8-foot booths, these will be 10-by-10-foot spaces.”
A smaller booth size will be available for those vendors who would prefer that as well as an emerging artist row geared toward new artists who aren’t able to afford the larger space.
“There’s way more space for this festival to spread out,” Ramos says. “We can bring in food trucks; there’s that outside space. Our hope is that it really is a family friendly, ‘come and hang out the whole day.’”
The Makers Collective, which launched Indie Craft Parade in 2010, also hosts the annual Makers Summit in March and a smaller-scale holiday pop-up market in December. It was founded by three Greenville creatives — Erin Godbey, Jen Moreau, and Ramos — to fulfill the needs of the creative community. In 2010, they observed that artists and makers around the South needed a way to put their work in front of a larger community, so they created Indie Craft Parade.
The 2018 Indie Craft Parade call for artists opens June 1. For more information, visit makerscollective.org.