For those who've already got "mall head" or simply prefer to buy local, the Arts Council of New Westminster is offering an alternative shopping experience for this holiday season.
The 27th annual "Treasure Room" artisans' fair runs daily from 1 to 5 p.m. until Dec. 23 at the Arts Council Gallery in Queen's Park.
Everything from hand-crafted jewelry and pottery to Victorian-inspired Christmas decorations and books by local authors are on offer.
"It's one of our main events," said Andree St. Martin, executive director of the Arts Council. "We do other events throughout the year as well, but the Treasure Room is our highlight for Christmas. We have all our regulars that come back and some new people that discover us."
Local jewelry artist Penny Cheng has a collection of earrings, bracelets and necklaces at the Centennial Lodge.
After teaching herself the basics of bead and wire designs, Cheng soon switched to chainmaille, which involves interweaving small metal rings together to create a pattern.
"I tried it and I found that was my niche," she said. "It's actually quite soothing; it's like knitting. ... I thought I should do something that I enjoy, and I noticed there isn't that much competition because there isn't that many people who actually do chainmaille on the West Coast or the Vancouver area."
Cheng said she does get orders from around the world for her work, but she has resisted the business model that would involve having her designs mass-produced to boost sales.
"If that was the case then I would have done it a long time ago and then have my stuff in Walmart," she said. "And I do not want that - my name being associated with mass-produced products."
Cheng's business is called Jewelry by Saniki Creations, which she started from her home studio in 2009.
She combines glass, crystals and semi-precious stones with copper, stainless steel, brass and bronze to produce her original pieces, some of which have been selected as gift bag items for A-list celebrities like Katie Holmes and Ryan Gosling.
For more information about the Treasure Room, or to book a time outside regular hours to shop, call the Arts Council office at 604-525-3244, or visit www.artscouncilnewwest.org.
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