Companies such as Traditions Handcraft Gallery and Ochapowace Petro Canada are responding to the growing demand for Indigenous gifts this holiday season.
Traditions is a Regina staple, established 26 years ago in the Cathedral Quarter. Current owners, Kathleen and Jeff Coleclough, provide local artists from across Saskatchewan with a venue to exhibit and sell their work.
The small group of Aboriginal artists with whom they are associated are enjoying some success, with their works selling at a good rate.
“They’re doing pretty well, we don’t have a lot of artists,” Kathleen coleclough said of their Aboriginal partners. “Most of our artists are painters, so we have Julie Francella, who does original paintings, and Lloyd Dubois, we also carry his objects.”
The Colecloughs would like to expand their collection of Aboriginal items in the future, to attract more potential customers.
We don’t have anything beaded, and sometimes that’s what people are looking for as what they consider classic native art,” said coleclough. “We have stuff, we don’t have as much as I would like, but what we have, people are interested in it.”
Ochapowace Petro Canada, just off Highway 1 near Pilot Butte, is another store stocked for everyone’s native gift needs.
Their inventory includes everything from paintings to covers to woodwork. All are locally made and in high demand according to manager Derek George.
“One thing we really struggle to keep in stock is our blankets,” he explained. “Our sherpa blankets, quilts and anything with traditional patterns. These are difficult to keep in stock.
George said the decision to stock Indigenous-themed gifts was a win-win scenario for the company and the artists they partnered with.
“We support our local artists with their bead work, their paintings and even their ribbon dresses,” he said. “The main reason was again that there was a market for it and we also want to support our local artists.”