When the Artisan opened back in 1988, there was no weekly market – or Internet – for local artists to peddle their wares.
But the way people shop has changed dramatically over 30 years.
There’s now many indoor and outdoor markets in Trail and surrounding communities throughout the year – as well as 24/7 websites – which are a few reasons why the downtown craft co-op is closing for good on Jan. 31.
The story of the Artisan shutting down isn’t cheerless, however. That’s because the business venture has been one of success as it has supported hundreds of Kootenay artists over time and long-time volunteers are walking away with years of fond memories.
“Artisan has been an amazing experience,” says Kim Shannon, an original member. “To continue to run a volunteer-based business for 30 years is no easy feat. I’m proud of what we accomplished as a group,” she shared.
“It’s sad to say good-bye, but we are ready to move on to new challenges and adventures.”
Trail was in an economic crunch back in the 1980s. As an outlet for local craftspeople to sell their products and stimulate local business, the Artisan was created by Trail’s Economic Action Development Committee.
Doors first opened in October of 1988 in Waneta Plaza. The shop later moved to Eldorado Street in downtown Trail, and finally to its present location on Spokane Street.
“It has been fun, sometimes challenging, but always worthwhile,” Shannon said. “Markets, fairs, and other retail outlets now provide opportunities for locally produced items, and the downtown retail environment has significantly changed.”
Fabric artist Barbara O’Hearn, known for sock monkeys, sock bears and Christmas elves, echoes Shannon’s sentiment.
She joined the Artisan in October 1988, and ever since, has been freely giving her time to run the store.
“Artisan has always been for me, a very magical place to spend many fun working hours over these past 30 years,” O’Hearn said. “I am very sorry to see Artisan close its doors but I feel it is just the right time.”
All those customers who walked through the front door and kept coming back year after year is why both women have remained dedicated to the end.
“My favourite memory is the people, both fellow crafters and customers, but especially customers who were so excited to find that one-of-a-kind handcrafted item that was perfect for their needs,” said Shannon.
O’Hearn added, “I have enjoyed very much working at the store, working with the members, a wonderful group of hard working ladies, our loyal customers who have supported us over these past 30 years. Also some very special customers who every year before Christmas will come into Artisan and purchase an elf or two to add to their Christmas Collection. A couple of our customers having at least 30 elves in their collection, and I thank them very much for their support.”
For last-minute shoppers, some items in the store have been discounted, and will be throughout the closing. Other artists will remove their stock completely and continue to sell in other outlets.
“Our store will be open for business until Jan. 31 so be sure to stop by to see what our members have created for you and look for special pricing on many items,” Shannon said. “Some of our members and suppliers take part in local markets and fairs, so will still have their products available at those locations.”