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Holiday shoppers' secret weapon: No Coast Craft-O-Rama indie show

My favorite indie craft extravaganza, the No Coast Craft-O-Rama, is coming up this weekend at the Midtown Exchange building in Minneapolis. Now in its fifth year, this annual craft sale and show has become an invaluable holiday-shopping secret weapon.

The wares are notable for their affordability and accessibility; what you'll see is a bit funkier and more irreverent than what you'd find at more traditional fine craft shows. No Coast is especially known for crazy-cute baby gear, pop-tastic prints, crafty paper products and kitschy household ephemera; shoppers will also find delicate glass art, handmade jewelry, gorgeous handspun yarn and hip textile designs.

This year's show, which begins this afternoon and runs all day Saturday, features work by nearly 90 vendors, a great many of them local artists. (Click here to browse through the full list of participating crafters.)

No Coast consistently presents a well-curated show — the goods are unusual and beautifully made, and the selection is both varied and wallet-friendly. I love the fact that I'm able to buy directly from local artists and stretch my holiday shopping dollar.

One of the featured events on Saturday, the Craft-a-thon, looks like a hoot: It's "a competitive event that pits four teams of crafters against each other in an 'upcycling' battle royale" to "take a pile of junk" and turn it into fashionable clothing and wearable accessories.

I always look forward to browsing, but this year I've especially got my eye on the elegant stained-glass pieces by Unblinking Eye, maybe a plush toy by Penguin and Fish and perhaps a little something from Sinister Bags.

The No Coast Craft-O-Rama will take place in the Midtown Exchange from 3 to 8 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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