By DEBORAH GATES
The Daily Times of Salisbury
SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — Kathy Stempel knows artisans who scramble for a short-lived space at area festivals or fairs. They show their wares for a few hours, often paying for a vending booth well over the amount they realized in profit. For at least 18 of them, those days have passed.
“Most vendors found it to be expensive to set up for a weekend or a day,” Stempel said. “Now, I have a building with five rooms and a workshop, and vendors are happy to have their stuff here where people can see it any time, all day. I’ve had absolutely no problem getting people to come on board.”
Stempel and her daughter, Karen Lowden, rolled their gift for gab and artistry into Handmade Galleria… Shop & Share, a retail center that invites artisans to place their creations on consignment for a meager rental fee. The shop, at 1203 Mount Hermon Road on Salisbury’s east side, sells handcrafted works and exposes local artisans including Stempel and Lowden who, until now, traveled from venue to venue for a single day or weekend show.
It is the only known retail shop in the Salisbury area devoted to new and locally created arts and crafts. The shop opened in July, and already has attracted 18 vendors who pay $30 a month to display 30 items — a sign that Handmade Galleria filled a void on the local landscape, Stempel said.
“People are so talented,” Stempel said. “You need to support the local people and see the beautiful things people around here make. My daughter and I have crafted for years — it’s like an addiction.”
Handmade Galleria offers occasional how-to crafts workshops, and hobbyists or novice artisans can drop for an idea or tutoring on a technique.
“You can shop, but we will share what we know,” said Stempel, who likes to sew. “My daughter did an apron workshop, and we have a first sewing class coming up. We hope to feature a Vendor of the Month online.”
Stempel, a native of Maine who has lived in Salisbury more than 15 years, wanted a place to show her sewing creations. Lowden, with multi-talents, did, too.
“We do a bit of everything; we make quilts, purses, anything you can think of,” Stempel said. “My daughter dabbles in a lot of things, from carpentry to painting with watercolor and sewing.”
Handmade Galleria opened in a former veterinarian’s office, a building that sat vacant almost two years, she said.
Coincidentally, the location is where Stempel’s retriever and Rottweiler mix, Kye, was a patient.
When Kye visited the location after it became an artisan’s showroom, “he walked in, looked around, and turned and came out as if to say, `Something’s different,’ ” Stempel said, laughing. “He knew where he was supposed to go — to a room where he used to get on the scale.”
Stempel said she rents the Mount Hermon Road building from the operator of the Burger King next door. The restaurant owner has agreed to let Handmade Galleria occupy the space at least several months, she said. After that, the shop might have to relocate.
“It’s a chance for (us) to decide if we like it,” she said.
The shop has house wares, pottery, ceramics, stuffed animals with vintage jewelry, decorated furniture, bird houses, purses, quilts, hats and accent pieces — to name a few items, Stempel says.
Most items at the shop are priced from $3 or $5 to about $50, and vendors include writer Gale Giordano, a former Salisbury resident and author of the children’s book “Gilbert the Littlest Groundhog,” sold at the shop for $21.99.
Another vendor also features handmade items on Etsy, the online retail showcase.
“The list goes on and on,” Stempel said. “We have neck coolers — they use them for thoroughbred horses when they come off the track. We have several thousand items. Everything is brand new or recycled into something new. We were thrilled with the quality of stuff coming in.”
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)