When an opportunity is handed to you, you simply must see where it goes.
A little over a year ago, I participated in a discussion board online where artists were considering opening a co-op storefront. The woman leading the conversation backed out and another woman from the group contacted me to see if I would still be interested—she had even found a location. I said I was still interested, but no others seemed to be ready to make the leap. She and I looked at the property (our current location) and agreed to open a store. I contacted my mother-in-law Lynnda to see if she would be interested in joining us. At the last minute, right before the lease was signed, the woman dropped out and Lynnda and I had to decide if we should still go for it. I was fortunate because she said yes—and we were in business! We signed the lease and opened up shop.
Lynnda had retired right before we opened the store and living two hours away in winter began to take a toll. Eight months into the store, my husband Jay decided to buy his mother out of the business. The transition was super smooth since we are all family. All in all, our first year in business and even the changes along the way have been a fun adventure!
While most of our artists are located in the Twin Cities Metro area, some artists are as far north as International Falls and as far south as New Ulm and Rochester. We have many of our original artists who helped us open the doors still with us today. We have also added some amazing new artists along the way. We enjoy promoting all of them with our featured artist blog posts and social media outlets driving traffic to learn more about the artists, their inspiration, and products.
Since Jay and I have other jobs too, the store gets to remain a passion project that we are not dependent on for living expenses. Instead, we get to send out checks each month to artists from all over the state of Minnesota. In fact, to date all income the store has made has been rolled back into the business—something we are really proud of. Even though the store is run by Jay and I, we still very much see it as an artist co-op in how we partner with and celebrate the artists we represent.
When you open a new business, you have no idea if it will take off. But from the beginning, the support from the neighborhood was incredible! We had people coming in just to welcome us to the neighborhood. We have gotten some great press about the shop both in print and in social media. Our website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all grown so much over the year. Our followers are so supportive! We could not be more thankful for the people that make us and our artists successful.
We are looking forward to a wonderful and prosperous second year! Thank you so much for your support during this incredible first year of business! Please keep us in mind for gifts for all occasions and for yourself. Since at least one artist stops in every day we are open, you will see something new each time you visit. We hope to see you soon and often!
Please join us for our One Year Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, May 14th from 10am-5pm. We will have gifts with purchase, giveaway raffles, and more!
Christa Tess Kalk