Updated March 7, 2019 - 11:12 am
Imagine if your Pinterest board came to life and every craft, cookie and home decor you’ve ever pinned was suddenly in arm’s reach.
That’s how sisters Kellie Dooley and Allison Gharst explain the Queen Bee Market.
“It’s like Etsy came to life,” Dooley says. “We gather 60 to 75 of the best vendors who sell handmade and vintage items and host a craft fair over two days.”
The Queen Bee Market returns to Las Vegas for the fourth time this weekend, attracting dozens of vendors to share their wares, crafts and creations.
The sisters’ crafting journey began in 2009, when they had babies just a few months apart.
Overwhelmed with the new challenges of motherhood and spending their days at home rather than teaching, they took up crafting.
“We started making signs,” Gharst says. “It was just for fun — to keep our sanity. But we posted pictures and people started asking to buy them.”
They opened an Etsy shop called Peabody and Sassafras and attended Queen Bee for the first time in San Diego in 2010.
There, they sold handmade signs created with salvaged wood with images of anglers with felt flowers and mom-inspired messages like “Just the right amount of chaos and love.”
In 2014, Queen Bee Market went up for sale.
“We didn’t want to see it disappear,” Dooley says. “So we purchased it. We had a good foundation and loyal vendors and took it as a springboard to grow it.”
Since then, the sisters have expanded the biannual market from San Diego to Las Vegas. It will soon land in Seattle.
“We usually see about 1,000 to 1,500 shoppers over the two days,” Dooley says.
Makers, artists and sellers who gather at the Conference Center of Las Vegas come from Las Vegas, California, Utah and other Western locales.
“Each booth is designed like a little shop,” Dooley says. “Each vendor is unique and has beautiful backdrops. It’s really fun to even walk around and see that.”
Goods for sale will include baby moccasins by Mylo Moccs, chalk signs by Chalk Couture, paper flowers by Pretty Petals by Lucy and sugar cookies by Fromscratchlv. Other items range from small stickers and body products to clothing and vintage furniture.
Many of the vendors are curated by Gharst and Dooley through social media.
“Often, they find us and reach out to be a part of it,” Gharst says. “Or they talk to each other at other markets. If we’re looking for a specific item, we’ll search on Etsy.”
Now the two moms have three kids each. And, between them, the five girls are eager to join Queen Bee.
“They’ve come to the craft nights and will help serve,” Gharst says. “My oldest recently told me, ‘When you’re too old I want you to give me the business!’ ”
Local nonprofit Opportunity Village will host a donation booth at this weekend’s event. Visitors can receive $1 off admission with monetary contributions or donations of household items, clothing, books, school supplies and more for the Opportunity Village thrift store.
“Putting it together is hard work,” Dooley says. “But it’s fun work.”