West Virginian independence fueling crafts industry

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Anthony Scott, a shop foreman at Richwood Creations
Anthony Scott, at Richwood Creations, is one of many West Virginians supported by Web-marketed arts and crafts.

The spirit of West Virginia independence is helping fuel its growing crafts industry, says an online merchant and the founder of Our-WV.com.

Paul Thompson, of Buckhannon, who launched the site that represents more than 110 Appalachian artisans six years ago, says more West Virginians are turning to the Web to market arts and crafts when faced with economic downturn.

“Rather than leave, many are choosing to stay and employ their skills here as artisans, and the spirit of independence is fueling that,” Thompson said, alluding the the state motto, “Montani Semper Liberi,” or “Mountaineers Are Always Free.”

“People are finding a livelihood here in the hills that’s supporting them financially and allowing them freedom to set their own goals as business people.”

Thompson said he thinks growing small arts businesses in the Mountain State will ensure the health and vitality of individuals and communities and expects that many more artisans will join the sector as they discover the benefits.

More than a thousand shoppers visit Thompson’s online marketplace for West Virginia crafts on many days, and Thompson says he feels sure many are using other national e-commerce sites.

“We have the resources and the talent here, we just need to create more markets, we need more exposure,” he said.