It was initially a nonprofit organization that allowed women to earn money while still taking care of their responsibilities in the home and with the family. Its founding statement also included the ideas of "preserving the skills of our pioneer ancestors and the skills and crafts of their various countries."
The idea of a consignment store was not completely new in 1937. Since 1876, Brigham Young had recommended that a central Relief Society women's store be opened. There was a store opened called the Women's Commission House with provided items ranging from shawls to home-churned butter. From 1890 to 1912 another store operated that provided women a place to sell clothing goods.
The first consignment shop was set up in the Bureau of Information and museum on Temple Square, where the South Visitor's Center was later built. Customers and contributors increased so the shop was moved to a larger location. The shop was moved two more times.
In January 1986, the Relief Society announced that they felt Mormon Handicraft had fulfilled its purpose and that the store would be closed. Many people sent out petitions to stop the closing, and just one week before it was to be closed, Deseret Book, made Mormon Handicraft a part of its company. In 2000, the store was moved to its current location at "This is the Place Heritage Park." It now provides pioneer displays along with its handmade goods. They also provide classes and workshops to the general public and other events such as a fabric club.