Homespun Mercantile opens for local artists

Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jeanne Wilder was trying to work on jewelry at the outdoor Juneau Artists Market recently when a gust of wind rocked her makeshift gallery. Next to her Carol Schriver tried in vain to corral her fabrics and Michelle Donohue looked far down the street to see if the scents of her homemade soaps would turn some heads. Thus was born Homespun Mercantile.

"It was a bonding experience in the weather," Schriver said. "That's how we met. We just started talking and thought how nice it would be to have a store in the valley. We all had the same dream, we just didn't know how to go about it."

Homespun Mercantile, 800 square feet of grandmotherly goodness, is an artist consignment shop located in the Airport Mall. It gives local artists another avenue to display their works.

"I was kind of the instigator," Wilder said. "I had the vision of starting an artists co-op. We liked the idea but realized that it would involve forming a corporation, which meant more money and time than we could commit... we wanted to be a little cautious."

So the three formed a partnership a month ago with a three-hour meeting on a Thursday followed by six hours that Sunday and location inspection the following day. Homespun opened last Monday.

"I tell people we lightly opened," Schriver commented. "We started moving a few things in and let artists know we were here. Our goal was to help other artists get their stuff out there."

Along with Schriver's rugs made from recycled materials, Wider's jewelry designs, and Donohue's original soaps and lotions, patrons can see Vicki Perez' cuddly teddy bears, Five Fingers Pottery works, Judy and Becky Andree's beading, Linda Lane's ornaments, the Fredenberg line of kids clothing and custom book boxes, David Athearn's fish clubs and walking sticks made from Devil's Clubs and blueberry stalks, and David McCleery's wood furnishings, among other items.

Recycling is a big part of the Homespun theme and the owners jury artists for selection. The three also share talent with the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, sending artists there if they have no room.

There is no charge for artists, just a 35 percent commission upon a sale.

"We are going to have First Fridays here as well," Schriver said. "We're going to do it for the Valley just like they do it downtown, and have featured artists. It just gives people a chance to come and buy handmade local artists' (work) without having to go to a craft show."

Added Wilder, "We don't want to chase the tourists... we want to cater to the locals... and my craftiness doesn't end on December 31, I don't want to have to wait until March for the next show and I don't want local artists to have to wait either."

• Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.



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