At a craft fair, you'd see vendors from your and neighboring states (and hopefully a beer tent) selling their wares to the locals. Sometimes there's an entrance fee, sometimes there isn't. At a craft mall, just like a normal mall, the vendors are there permanently, selling their precious (creative) offspring. And though you could make your work at either and establish report with the passersby, you'd still be responsible for retail first and foremost. You'd have to work on your off days and hours or hire help.
A Craft Co-op is a work space and retail space in one, shared among a community of artists. Each member pays to use the workspace, (which is hopefully subdivided into private areas) and volunteers to man the retail shop a certain number of shifts a month. Depending on the location, an area may be set aside for classes or other activities. Just like any co-op there are by laws and meetings and everyone is a part of the success of the operation.
I'm totally blown away by this concept. As craft businesses are notoriously difficult to maintain, even if they are quite successful, support is a very important ingredient, perhaps more important than the love of the craft itself. This creative community not only forms an inspiring environment of makers, and all the knowledge that can be shared between them, but creates a more impressive retail space, with a wide variety of goodies. AND the space can easily become an incubator for the uninitiated. Seeing products that are made in the very same building carries a lot of significance. If a class is then offered by that artist, or they are manning the desk when you come in to look at their priceless artifacts, then, holy. cow.
The google machine has told me, through very little searching mind you, there are very few/next to no craft co-ops in Brooklyn, which is very surprising and also not surprising at all the longer I live there. But unlike most business ideas I have, Shipwreck included, I would very much look forward to starting something like this (just being honest) because it's a team effort. Being able to build a beautiful space, work with talented people selling beautiful things while making money. It may just be a pipe dream at the moment, but it's one I genuinely look forward to smoking (dream) crack from.
A place for product updates, inspiration, behind the scenes stuff, and in general a place for mind meandering.