Most local churches and schools hold craft fairs once a year.
Kathy Kampenga holds one every day.
Owner of the since January, Kampenga presides over a bright and cheerful business that beckons shoppers with its display of wood sports memorabilia, including a Chicago Blackhawks birdhouse on a pole bidding everyone welcome. There’s a Christmas tree in the window, assuring passers-by the spirit of the season is alive and well here.
Entering the store, eyes will dance from one item to the next. Everything is handcrafted. There is jewelry, accessories, doll clothes, wood items, candles, Christmas themed items, painted illustrations and more. Mr. and Mrs. Frosty, peering out from their own window, add a touch of whimsy. Every item comes from the imagination of the crafter behind it.
“I’m a crafter. I do it from start to finish,” Kampenga said.
She asks her crafters to do the same, but will accept a very small percentage of things that may have started out as store bought. She asks crafters to put “their touch” on these items.
Kampenga, who has been with the store as a crafter since it opened in 2010, specializes in painted wood items such as stockings for outside, house signs, small family Christmas trees and ceramics.
Like the other 100 or more crafters represented in the store, she has her own booth; or as Kampenga calls it, her own “piece of real estate.”
There’s even a corner for sports fans, featuring items with popular Chicago team logos. With a chuckle Kampenga said she put it in for the guys who accompany their wives and girlfriends to the store, so they could have someplace to go. They seem to flock to the display.
Her son, Keith Kampenga, is one of the crafters who have joined in his mom’s “dream.” He accompanied her to craft shows starting when he was six. He features framed, painted illustrations of comic book superheroes. He took his craft down to Florida to work for Disney World for three years. He has since come back home.
Last-minute Christmas shoppers don’t have to worry about whether the Craft Show Store is open when they have the time to shop. Kampenga and her assistant, Marianne will be behind the counter, or ready to show a customer around from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“I have to run the business like this,” Kampenga said. “I have to be open for the people who get off the train at 5 p.m., or those who can’t get here until the weekend.”
Kampenga will keep her doors open a few minutes more for those customers who come in five minutes before closing.
“I value service to customers,” she said.
Kampenga has another reason for keeping long hours.
“I’m here to support the crafters as well as the customers,” she said.