Specified moments in record can only arise at the ideal confluence of very long-term setting up and the surprising intervention of destiny. This previous November saw just such a second start out to unfold in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, with the harried opening of The Artist’s Confluence & Mercantile, a new artist consignment store on West German Avenue.
Store co-proprietor Roselyn Mendez is a Shepherdstown jewelry maker who has offered her art at several area studio excursions and crafts fairs for the earlier 8 a long time. When the pandemic set a halt on her normal revenue events, she came again to a extended-percolating notion about opening a everlasting retail location for herself and her group of fellow artists.
“Our group was missing a place exactly where all of these artists can have their work [in one place], so individuals can find it,” she stated. “With COVID, almost everything was canceled, so there was this pause of remaining equipped to rethink how we existing our do the job to the community.”
Much more than a calendar year handed, she couldn’t come across an suitable store place, and her normal excursions and fairs started to reopen. Meanwhile, longtime close friend and fellow artist Todd Cotgreave, who experienced been a sounding board for her strategies, experienced vowed to “never, at any time run a business enterprise again” immediately after extracting himself from owning a cafe and bar through the pandemic.
But in the very first 7 days of past November, when hunting for a new home for himself and his daughter, Cotgreave landed on the fantastic condominium that came with a big catch: The landlord would not allow for him to indication a lease until he agreed to run a company in the downstairs retail area. Not able to disregard his really like of the property and sensation the force of the limited local rental industry, he broke his promise to himself.
“I literally explained [to the landlord], ‘Give me a few of hrs and I’ll appear up with a business enterprise strategy,’” Cotgreave claimed. “I achieved out to [Mendez] to just get some views, and she was mainly like, ‘I’m in.’
“This just provides a show situation and a property foundation for so a lot of artists.”
The good friends-turned-company-associates scrambled to pull jointly a smooth open of their new place for artists in just two weeks in purchase to have a presence on Smaller Business Saturday.
“[Cotgreave] named me the 7 days before a studio tour, which is one particular of my busiest periods of year, which was absolutely a small nerve-racking,” Mendez said. “But I went in the Friday in advance of our studio tour and seemed at the space by myself, and observing the house and looking at the layout and understanding how a great deal perform could be [displayed] there took a tiny little bit of the strain away.”
The sheer beauty of the space is what finally clinched the offer for both equally of them, they claimed. They are nevertheless looking into the building’s history, but they know it was crafted in 1795 and served as a typical mercantile from 1870 to 1960. Cotgreave fell in enjoy with the original mercantile counters and the sound wooden flooring, which he described as currently being “like waves in the ocean. There is almost nothing flat about it. It has obtained so substantially character.”
Mendez right away turned to a handful of her artist close friends to fill the area with will work for their smooth opening, and just a few months later, 25 independent artists from the place have perform for sale at the shop.
“Most of the artists we’re working with … get the job done in common ways but have a form of present day bent to them,” she claimed, introducing that the artists are beloved in the local community.
The art consists of numerous kinds of media, this sort of as portray and images, as well as handmade, practical goods, these kinds of as pottery and home furniture, all created in a method Mendez describes as technically competent and appealing.
Cotgreave mentioned the most prevalent reaction he has obtained from showcased artists has been “a sigh of aid.” He explained that Shepherdstown is “like a minor bubble of remarkably proficient craftspeople” who experienced pretty handful of possibilities to showcase their do the job exterior of exhausting craft show circuits.
He claimed there are other stores that showcase regionally crafted objects, but the Confluence consignment store is the rare shop that does not area particular demands on its artists. Comparable retailers, for example, may need a woodworker to make “the exact same slicing board with a West Virginia shape in it in excess of and above once again,” but this store enables artists to promote personal merchandise.
For 20 a long time, Scott Tatina, a woodworker from Maryland Heights in Washington County who has merchandise in the store, uncovered that in-man or woman craft fairs were the finest way to provide his get the job done. He tried using numerous well-liked on line outlets but felt them to be, in his phrases, sterile. He identified a need to speak specifically with his shoppers in order to help them hook up with the deeply regional mother nature of his function. He will take joy in telling consumers where by he located specific trees felled in storms to harvest the wood for his initiatives.
But at 65, jogging from craft fair to craft reasonable was having its toll on Tatina, so he was particularly grateful when Mendez approached him with an supply to display screen his work in a stable artistic area.
“I assume it is wonderful. It’s an opportunity to get our things out to the community,” he stated. “I believe it is heading to be effective for all of us.”
Cotgreave explained the in-particular person, hands-on nature of the retailer is really essential to him. He is currently doing work on creating an on the internet system for the retailer but emphasised he in all probability wouldn’t have ventured on the net if not for the pandemic making quite a few probable buyers cautious of in-individual shopping.
Mendez suggests she wishes the shop to evolve into an active performing area rather of just becoming a static show circumstance. A writer as very well as a handcrafter, she desires to provide storytelling occasions to the retail store in the coming months, as nicely as art workshops.
“Depending on COVID, of training course, we hope to have the room be a flourishing local community house for the arts,” she stated. “It’ll change and modify, and we’ll determine out how to make that occur.”