By Liesl Greathouse

MONTROSE–For craft lovers and holiday shoppers, the Basement Boutique Craft Show has been one of the most popular craft shows in Montrose for 40 years.  This year it will be held on Nov. 28, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Nov. 29, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Montrose Pavilion, 1800 Pavilion Drive.  Admission is free.

The Basement Boutique began 40 years ago, when one day a group of crafters sat talking about how dissatisfied they were with the local craft shows.  They talked about how nice it would be to have an upscale craft show in Montrose. But where would they have it?

Sandy Whitley, one of the crafters, suggested that they could put a show on in her basement.  The group found 10 crafters who agreed to join them and put together their first craft show.  Fliers were made and invitations were sent out to friends and neighbors. The show was held on a Friday and Saturday. A sign was put out in front of the house and the customers started coming in.

“It got so crowded in the basement they had to have people wait outside until customers left so they could let more people into the basement,” Sandy explained.

The weather was good and the basement was decorated with a Christmas tree, wreaths and Christmas decorations, which the customers loved.  Due to a steady stream of customers, all of the crafters were sold out within the two days.

Once the show was over the group knew if they were to repeat this show the following year a larger venue was needed.

The following year the show was held in the basement of the Methodist Church. The group started jurying crafters as it grew to make sure the show stayed upscale. The following year the show was moved to the basement of the Village Inn and it stayed there for many years. That is how the name “Basement Boutique” came to be.

The Basement Boutique started out and still remains a small show. As a co-op of crafters the fees paid for the show go to pay for all the expenses needed to put on the show.  It still remains a juried show and only two of any one craft is allowed.  Those two crafters who may do the same type of craft need to have different items so there are no duplicates.

The show has grown from 9-10 crafters to a maximum of 30 crafters.  Each crafter in the show has a job to do like sitting at the cash tables, floor assistant, tag counter, counting money, and decorating the hall.  Fliers are created and posted to expand advertising. The only promoters are the crafters themselves.

Since the Pavilion was completed in 1992, the Basement Boutique has called it home.

“The lighting is great, the hall is neat and clean, the staff is wonderful to work with and we can maintain our central checkout with the separate rooms,” explained Kathi Zerby-Lewis, current Show Chairman.

Customers walk in, pick up a basket and they can walk around the show with the items they want to purchase and only pay once at the convenient check out.  As the show grew, it now includes Visa and MasterCard, not just cash or check sales.

Over the years the Basement Boutique has offered a space for local groups to have fundraisers for their organization.  “We had groups such as the girls’ basketball team, MAPA, and Altrusa to name a few,” Kathi said.  “We ask customers to bring canned goods that are then donated to Sharing Ministries. The past few years we’ve had no takers who could do a fundraiser, so the Boutique co-op put together a table selling cookies, cupcakes, coffee, and tea. The proceeds are donated to a different organization each year. In the past it was to a women’s shelter and Christ’s Kitchen.”

While the show has been around for decades, it has gone through many changes, and more are still being talked about.  “The last several years we have talked about expanding the show into another room,” Kathi explained.

“We receive so many calls from crafters wanting to be in the show, but we are really limited right now due to space.  Being a show with a central checkout it is a little challenging configuring the show so people go in one door and go out through the checkout lines.”

Kathi’s favorite part is when all the pre-work is done and she gets to enjoy the show.  “After all the crafters have set up and all the decorations are in place it is really beautiful and we can say ‘ahhhh we are ready for the customers to arrive’,” she said.  “My absolute most favorite part is watching the faces of the customers as they walk in the door to see the crafts. It makes it all worth the hard work.”

For more information, and if you would like to be juried for next year’s show, call Kathi at 323-6084.