Oliver’s Wood & Fabric – Elaine Oliver and Her Family Are Making Their Mark on the City of Manchester.

by | Apr 2023

ELAINE AND Bruce Oliver moved their family to Tennessee in 1997, and they have always enjoyed creating and working with their hands. From woodworking to sewing, they’ve honed their craft over the years and turned it into a thriving business that brings joy to their community.

Elaine’s journey as a small-business owner began with selling Avon products and making gift baskets for special occasions. She even taught herself how to sew and made pillows and blankets for her expecting friends. Her husband was drawn to woodworking early on and started making picture frames, jewelry boxes, toys, and more, selling them to Elaine’s friends out of the trunk of her car. 

Elaine’s friends and family eventually encouraged her to participate in craft shows. Despite the initial cost of setting up booths at these events, she decided to take the plunge with her son, Michael, by her side.

They began hosting their own events in September 2020, the first being “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which proved to be a huge success. They continued to host more craft shows amidst the pandemic shutdowns, bringing together local small businesses and providing a fun experience for attendees of all ages. 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

“We needed to do something to get back out in the community because the spirits were down.”

Elaine said she loves how owning a business in a small town unites the community. Her craft shows offer a fun space for locals to support each other and enjoy interactive games, photo booths, costume contests, and themed decorations. Vendors without storefronts also have the opportunity to sell their products and even create items that match the theme.

Some vendors even make items to sell that coordinate with the theme. 

“It’s something that the community can get together and enjoy. It’s something that people can do by themselves or as a family. And it’s really enjoyable to see the community come together.”

Despite the challenge of organizing major events with limited crew members, the mother-son duo remains committed to providing enjoyable experiences for vendors and attendees alike.

Some of Elaine’s most memorable moments come from her and her son talking with their families about possible theme ideas. 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

“We sit around talking about our craft show, and [it gives] us some ideas. Some of the names of our themes came from other people in our family.” 

One of Michael’s fondest memories was the “Island of Misfits” craft show during Christmas 2021. It was one of their biggest events with over 100 vendors and helped them realize how much of an impact they have on their community.

The family recently held their third and biggest “Sweet as Candy” craft show on February 11. The event was so huge that they had to use two buildings. Elaine is optimistic that attendance will continue to grow as more people become aware of their incredible events. 

“It’s coming together, [which] makes us want to do more and make all of them bigger.” 

Elaine recalled her favorite show, “Heroes and Villains,” their first and biggest event, which brought together the community with an exciting costume contest for both children and adults.

“They were willing to dress up and come to our event in the middle of the year. And that was really cool.”

The family always looks for crafty people to bring their hand-crafted items to craft shows and for community members to come out and shop. 

Elaine said, “You don’t have to go to the big-box stores because most of those items you can find right here. It’s people letting people know about small businesses in their communities.” 

Through creativity and hard work, Elaine and Michael have built something extraordinary with Oliver’s Wood & Fabric. They’ve created a successful business and a place where people can come together to celebrate artistry and community spirit.

Michael shared his sentiments: “As soon as one show is over and we have a moment to reflect as we cross that finish line, it’s right back to work on the next event. It is demanding, but it is so much fun and rewarding. There is a lot of inspiration from being surrounded by so many different artists with such varied art forms working together and fueling each other’s creativity toward newer and greater things to come.” GN 

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