OTTUMWA — Saturday’s craft and vendor show at Bridge View Center offered some unique items for sale.
Melody Davis and Amanda Bendickson sold gnomes. Not the kind of gnome you would find outside on front lawns, but homemade gnomes made of rice and sewn with fabric material.
Each gnome was even given a name. There was Hunter, Woody, Perfectly Pink, Rocket, Abner and more. Their names were based on the themes. Hunter had hunting camouflage, Woody was based off Woody from Toy Story and Perfectly ink was, well, pink. Rocket was based off Fourth of July, and Abner wasn’t based on anyone.
“And the name of the business is ‘Wherever I May Gnome,’” Davis said laughing. Davis’ and Bendickson’s business, based in Waterloo, is fairly new.
“It started in March … first as a hobby and then I thought, well you know it might be nice to go to a craft show so I put a couple on Facebook just to see how it would sell and then I couldn’t make the hats fast enough,” Davis said.
The gnomes seemed to catch the attention of passersby, especially when they first walked in.
“A lot of them think they’re very cute; a lot of work [is] put into them,” Davis said.
What’s the creative process like?
“You pick up, there’s a sock underneath, they have to be filled and tied off,” Davis explained, “their noses have to be made and she [Bendickson] will make the hats and I a lot of times I will go and find a bunch of fabric and hand it to her.”
Bendickson and Davis enjoyed Saturday’s show. They speculated they were going to buy some items.
The most popular booth, at least based on the number of people who came to it, wasn’t a crafty booth, but a booth that sold alcoholic chocolates and sweets. Megan Liles and Holly Lampe were all smiles when they explained to attendees what Wicked Sweets, their 3-month-old business, had to offer. Attendees feasted their eyes and tastebuds on cookie dough, s’mores, peach cobbler, margarita and watermelon lime truffles. There was also flavored bourbon peanut butter.
Liles and Lampe came from Cedar Rapids for Liles’ niece’s graduation party and thought they would come to Bridge View to show off their treats. Business boomed in Cedar Rapids, and it was doing well on Saturday, too. Passersby loved the story of how Wicked Sweets came to be.
“It just kind of started because we were home one night and were drinking and said, ‘Hey, do you think we can make candy with booze?’ And so here we are,” Liles said.
Lampe enjoyed every minute of her time there on Saturday, explaining the process to each person.
“A job that pays me to drink on the job and we call it market research — it’s a beautiful thing,” Lampe said laughing. “Essentially we get an idea in our heads, sometimes you need to drink.”
Lampe got the idea for watermelon margarita from a friend. The friend, she said, would have been happy if she could take the drink’s flavor and make it into a truffle. Then there was the cookie dough flavor, which was inspired after cookie dough shots. “A lot of trial and error went into it,” she said. “We use different alcohols to create the actual flavor.”
What draws crowds to these truffles with hints of alcohol?
“It’s just a little taboo to think there’s some alcohol in it,” Liles said, “so it’s very intriguing to people and the flavors are not just what you would just find in the store.”
The next step for Liles and Lampe is to open a commercial kitchen in Cedar Rapids and come to the next craft and vendor show in town.
Marla Kerby, a vendor who sold some homemade hair clips and candy dishes, also plans to come back. She’s been coming back for the last year and doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon.
“I was just ready to get out and do something,” Marla Kerby said. “There’s people ready to get out and do things, so what better time?”
Saturday’s’ show, she said, was a chance of getting back to “some normalcy” and getting people out of their homes.
“It seems some people are still kind of leery about going out,” she said. “You can’t let this go on forever. You got to get out and live your life.”