Culture Shock: Creative Economies

Octofair 2018 Brings Deeper Collaborations, Experiences

Maggie Grimason
5 min read
Collin Troy and Belita Clover
Collin Troy and Belita Clover, co-owners of The Octopus and the Fox, in the store. (Eric Williams Photography)
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“In Albuquerque, there’s not a huge amount of industry in terms of arts and entertainment … for people who create, there’s not necessarily a clear outcome, so you do it for the right reasons,” Collin Troy explained as we sat at the long table in the back room of well-loved EDo establishment The Octopus and the Fox (514 Central Ave. SE). “So, you have to make your own path, and that takes the whole community.”

Since 2011, the shop has been doing just that—forging its own path and creating a platform for Albuquerque’s creatives when the values of handmade and local weren’t as prized as they have (thankfully) become today. From their adorable brick storefront on Central, Troy and co-owner (and one of the original four founders) Belita Clover sell the work of local creatives—from kitschy embroidery to fine jewelry to bath products and housewares. Another iteration of that DIY spirit and strong conviction of the place is manifested in the yearly party that is Octofair.

Octofair has existed about as long as the store itself has, and invites makers to table and vend their work, but has recently grown to become something more expansive, “a community craft festival,” as Troy put it, that has grown to become a “destination,” that offers entertainment, food, drinks and activities for all ages that extend throughout the day (the fair runs from 10am to 4pm). In the process of expanding the collaborative nature of the event, partnerships arose with Sister (who is providing a stage for live music from multiple local bands working multiple genres), food from neighboring Farina Pizzeria, and beer provided for purchase from La Cumbre Brewing Co. Octofair 2018 also encompasses the formal closing celebration of Mural Fest.

That’s not all the day offers though—Dryland Wilds, makers of wildcrafted perfumes, soaps and other desert botanical sundries, will host a foraging walk through the nearby Huning Highlands neighborhood, for example. “That walk,” Troy said, “really represents a lot about the event. It’s not happening in isolation—we’re literally taking event-goers out into the neighborhood to identify local plants in this historic neighborhood. It just hits so many notes.” Additionally, Troy talked up a table manned by representatives from the Chinese Cultural Center, who will perform the traditional lion dance, and artists from Indigo Toy Box, who are sponsoring a maker’s table with hands-on activities.

Marking the growth of this event is huge for The Octopus and the Fox, which was nearly shuttered after business took a hit in 2017 with the onset of ART. “This isn’t the kind of business you get rich in,” Troy explained. But the ethics by which the business was founded and continues to be run are very genuine, and that is its own kind of currency. A crowdfunding campaign—Shop Like You Give A Fuck—was started, and that sustained the store through lean months during construction. “We’re this uber-local store,” Troy went on, explaining something of the spirit of the place. “We’re this cute little pipsqueak thing that people don’t want to go away. Like a rare bird that you don’t want to see go extinct.”

Though a trial, perhaps those months solidified the presence of what’s known in local shorthand as the Octofox and its vital role in connecting creatives with resources. To further support the creative economy the owners specifically planned Octofair for the second weekend of Balloon Fiesta, so that they can “bring more capital into the city, rather than just exchanging it between the people who already care about that,” Troy explained. What comes of that is something more valuable than profit margins, but, as Troy explained, “better output—you see better products from artists because they’re able to commit more to it.” We all benefit from that—local creatives, buyers, and out-of-towners who might be further introduced to the uniqueness and vitality of what is being made right here in Albuquerque. “We want to create a space where not only can people discover new, awesome stuff and support the creative economy, but enjoy themselves and see the incredible spectrum of talent that is Albuquerque.” That, of course, encompasses everything being offered at the event—from art to food to music.

“I want visitors to walk away understanding just how fucking cool Albuquerque is,” Troy said. “We just want to be a conduit for a lot of what we believe is cool about this city. I really do believe it’s just not like any other place.” Troy’s sincerity in that belief is palpable, and that sense of sincerity is embroidered right into the store itself. “Those ideas of shopping small and local, and valuing the handmade are taking deeper root,” he said. “Albuquerque is special in this way, because those features are historical. I think people really think and act that way, and value those things. In the broader culture there’s been a shift to gravitate to those ideas. We’re uniquely placed and almost have, like, more refined skills to facilitate that. We already know these things, we’re not play acting. This is who we are.”

Experience all the local magic that is The Octopus and the Fox, and of course, speaks to all that Albuquerque is, too, this Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10am to 4pm at Octofair 2018 in the lot just east of the shop itself.
The Octopus and the Fox

Since 2011 the store has been highlighting all that’s cool about ABQ, and part of that work is done through the annual Octofair.

Eric Williams Photography

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