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Appalachian Craftsmen, Inc.

Appalachian Craftsmen, Inc., was an economic development project arising from the War on Poverty. It was chartered in 1971 by the Southwestern Community Action Council and the Junior League of Huntington, and provided low-income artisans a means to earn money by making clothing, home decor, and stuffed toys. Formed in Lincoln County, West Virginia, the organization expanded to include residents of Cabell, Mason, and Wayne counties. Quilters in Upshur County were included when Mountain Artisans, a local sewing group, closed.

Sewers who wanted to supplement family income, but who could not leave home to do so, were provided training, fabric, and designs and were paid on a piece-rate basis. Marketing initially followed a sales party strategy, with a national network of women showing samples of the high-end clothing, quilts, home decorator items, and toys in their homes. Orders were filled by the rural artisans and shipped to the buyers.

Appalachian Craftsmen also sold nationwide through holiday shows, craft fairs, and to gift and clothing boutiques. A Huntington shop provided a local retail outlet. In 1979, a shop opened at the Greenbrier resort and, in 1980, another followed at the Homestead resort in Virginia. Appalachian Craftsmen returned almost $500,000 to more than 250 rural women. In 1984, sales declined due to the influx of foreign imports, and the organization closed in 1988.

Written by Carter T. Seaton