Keeping It Local

by | Jul 25, 2022 | Events, Online Exclusives, Topsail Beach

Held all summer long, Topsail Beach Craft Market is place to find an abundance of locally made art and crafts.

Every Thursday during the summer, visitors and residents have the opportunity to shop for handmade crafts and other enticing goods from more than 20 vendors in one convenient location — the Topsail Beach Craft Market.

Celebrating its 10th year, the market is the local option for art, jewelry, photography, soaps and many other items made by talented individuals based on Topsail Island and throughout the area.
“It gives people a specific spot and time and day that you know you can find local, handmade items — nice, quality items — and support small businesses,” says Market Manager Debi Lancaster, who has been a vendor for the past six years and took over as market manager in 2019.

Originally promoted as Summer Plunder Days, the market was started by Topsail Beach resident Dottie Netherton along with Lisa Keenan and Laura Saddlemire. In the beginning days, they would have someone come in dressed as a pirate, Lancaster says. She explains that the idea behind promoting the day as “plundering” was to encourage everyone to get out and explore the area after they finish at the market.

Topsail Beach Craft Market

That idea continues today as the Craft Market still likes to promote what the entire area has to offer.

“We suggest to shoppers that they should spend time in stores, restaurants and the Assembly Building after the market,” Lancaster says.

In fact, the Assembly Building hosts Bingo Night each Thursday through August 25 at 6 pm.

There are many vendors at the Topsail Beach Craft Market, but each one offers something distinctive. The vendor selection is carefully juried each year so that there are minimal duplications, if any.

This way, Lancaster explains, there is “not an overload of a particular item or craft.” Even when there are multiple vendors working in the same art form, they each have a specialty. For example, there are three wood workers, but each creates a different type of wood product.

A lot of the vendors have been with the market since the first year. Lisa Keenan, who now serves as assistant market director and whose business is Carolina Shores Natural Soap, is the only vendor with a separate storefront. The rest depend on the Topsail Beach Craft Market and other area markets throughout the year as a place to promote their businesses and sell their handmade crafts.

Craft Market Topsail Beach NC

Island Squeeze is the only concession at the craft market, and it is very popular with shoppers and vendors alike. Lancaster says there is always a line at the fresh-squeezed lemonade stand.
“The market has a large following of people who look forward to it every year,” Lancaster says, adding that they have a large social media following and consistently receive comments on Facebook from visitors who say they are making plans to attend when they come to the island. “They take advantage of the opportunity to start their Christmas shopping each summer, knowing they can purchase something that is handmade and special.”

Lancaster is a resin artist, participating in the market as D. Lancaster Art. She says she does mainly coastal paintings and likes to do 3-dimensional pieces that bring out features such as textured waves. She also loves oil painting, something she does mostly in the off-season, and creates a variety of home items such as serving trays and mirrors.

Although the market typically opens at 9 am each Thursday, Lancaster, Keenan and others are on site as early as 6 am preparing the large field for the approximately 25 vendors that will arrive shortly after.

They will then stay after the 2 pm closing time to take it all down again and clear the large field where the market is located. Lancaster says that the “vendors are all like a big family.” They stay in touch throughout the year so they can keep up with one another.

“The market is a very positive experience,” Lancaster adds. Vendors and shoppers get to know and enjoy visiting with each other. Vendors love talking to everyone that comes through, asking where the visitors are from and answering questions about how their items are made. The Town of Topsail Beach has also been very supportive of the market through the years.

Want to go?
Topsail Beach Craft Market
Thursdays, 9 am to 2 pm
Memorial Day through Labor Day.
In 2022, the final market of the season will be held on September 1.
802 S. Anderson Boulevard, Topsail Beach

About the author

Pat Fontana

Pat Fontana

I am a business writer and communications workshop leader. My business, WordsWorking, and my recently published book, Talk to Me Like I’m a Human, focus on improving workplace communications, concentrating on the fundamentals of human interactions. I developed, write about and train on the concept of REAL Communications, encouraging others to communicate with Respect and Empathy, paying close Attention and Listening with intent. I can be reached at