SHOP TALK: Profiling two sets of crafty duos — with retail stores in ByWard Market and Almonte
Shop Talk

SHOP TALK: Profiling two sets of crafty duos — with retail stores in ByWard Market and Almonte

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

At SHOP TALK, we’re always keeping an eye out for beautiful things — all the better if said products are made locally and support the chasing of a creative dream.

Sometimes this means connecting with vendors at craft sales; other times, it means watching the changing ownership of retail real estate. Lately, we’ve been seeing these two aspects come together as local crafters put down stakes and open their doors at permanent retail locations.

The Tin Barn Market during one of its pop-up shops last year. Desa Photography.

Later this month (March 16 to be specific), Tin Barn Market will open its doors in Almonte. As the name suggests, the store started out in 2011 as a flea market in a tin barn.

It was the brain child of Errin Stone, whose career in retail communications included a vision for her own smaller, independent shop featuring re-used and re-purposed goods.

It soon garnered the attention of Vicki Veenstra, a local set designer and artist who herself harboured a certain “store fantasy.” The two quickly became partners, hosting three pop-up shops before eventually deciding to set up a permanent store. The Almonte location was a given, as both reside in the area and the town itself has a youthful, creative energy.

Meanwhile, over on York Street, A Curious Shop is thriving. Since October 5, Fiona Sant and Michelle Potter have been selling work by independent artists out of this wee boutique. Each artists in their own right, the two were already promoting original art via A Curious Collective. After many tours with music festivals, weekend craft fairs, and other events that brought crafty types together, an opening in the perfect location (between funky Adorit and brilliant Kania) spurred the two to strike out into the retail frontier.

Fiona, left, and Michelle, right, at the York Street store.

“Owning a shop was always part of our long-term plan, even though we never really discussed it. This past summer, after sweltering days and rainy nights at Jazzfest, we first started to seriously entertain the thought of opening a permanent boutique,” says Michelle,  who has has lived, worked, and played in the Byward Market for years. “In September, a retail opportunity presented itself to us out of the blue. And we pounced on it.”

Indeed, the York strip reminds us a bit of the heritage main street that drew Errin and Vicki to their shop fantasy. In both cases, it seems the location drove the decision to take the retail plunge.

(The Tin Barn ladies rave about their proximity to the town bakery and the fact that “people swing in just to say hi”.) Of course, location is always a factor, but something tells us there’s something more going on: that in the folksy industry of handmade goods, shopping really is about finding a place in which shopkeeper and customer alike feel at home.