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New Country Village craft business operates on fun
Janet DeGrave opened her business “The Creativity Place” in Country Village during August. But she wants to make fun, not money.
“This is a place where people can come and do arts and crafts,” said DeGraves. “It is free but donations are welcome.”
She said that “business” has been slow because the concept of a free place to do arts and crafts, where the supplies are free as well, is a hard concept for most to grasp.
“To me, I am having more fun if money is not involved,” said DeGraves. “You can go to the playground and play for free, why not a crafts store?”
She said that all of her costs, such as rent, her business cell phone, insurance and advertising, which comes to around $400 a month, are paid for by her husband. She said that she has accumulated $250 in donations since she opened.
“This used to be set up in my garage,” said DeGraves, who used to work at the Northshore YMCA. “When that got full I thought I have to find a new place.”
All of the craft supplies are things that she has collected and stored, were donated or were purchased for a low price. The supplies include everything from colored construction paper, clothespins, beads, markers, scraps of wood, scissors and glue, to ribbon, egg cartons, string and anything else resourceful and crafty. Among those craft items are 2,000 plastic Coke bottles and more cardboard toilet paper rolls than she can count.
Most of the inventory is recycled or found in nature. In all, she has 250 different items. She said she even has patterns for people, like her, who can’t draw freehand. But DeGraves wants those in the community who want to donate supplies to ask first, as she has limited space.
Located in building “M,” her space at Country Village is as unusual as her business model. The long narrow space is more reminiscent of a display area than a store. But the layout is perfect for DeGraves with all windows on one side and all supplies on the other.
She can accommodate between eight and 10 kids for a given project. And being creative and having fun is the only criteria.
“Different age groups need different supplies,” said DeGraves. “I love working with all age groups.”
And she knows how to work with kids. She volunteered to be the arts and crafts director while she worked at the YMCA and said she put in about 60 hours a week.
“Safety with crafting is big,” said DeGraves, who also owned a daycare for 10 years. “We don’t have a lot of breakable items.”
She wants the kids to create openly with few boundaries.
“Ninety-nine percent of children know what they want to do,” said DeGraves.
DeGraves said that she has always loved being around children.
“I was one of those people who loved staying home and playing with my kids,” said DeGraves. “I don’t want this to be a chore to come to work. It is fun to be a community resource.”
For Halloween, she had 574 trick-or-treaters come to her store and she handed out a treat bag of things she had created with her supplies.
She is in the midst of doing fall-themed crafts and also welcomes birthday parties.
Her hours are not always nine-to-five. Her schedule is always posted on the front glass of the store and on her Facebook page. She also invites those who want to come and do crafts to call her and set up a time to come by. Drop-ins are also welcome.
“Someone asked me if I was a business owner then,” said DeGraves. “I said I prefer some other title … like ‘fun master.’”