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Partnership brings together words and crafts

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A Sarnia bookstore owner who was toying with retirement and her entrepreneurial daughter have devised a way to grow their businesses and keep doing what they love.

Elaine Allen, long-time owner of Anne’s Book Place at 250 Russell St. South, was convinced it was time to sell her used bookstore and retire.

When the shop didn’t sell right away, Allen began considering other options.

“Besides, a friend said to me, ‘What are you going to do if you retire? You’ll just continue reading all day like you do now. But you’ll have to buy the book!’

“I thought about that and it was true,” said Allen with a laugh.

Meanwhile, daughter Robynn Marks was considering the future of her Stashbug business, a one-woman venture to sell her own leatherwork, metal jewelry and knitted products.

Marks, who is also a part-time book keeper at Michaels arts and crafts store in Sarnia, has been selling her own creations the past 18 years at bazaars and special events.

“I also had my products in a few local stores over the years but I wanted a place with regular hours where I could team up with other artists who need exposure,” she said.

“When Mom’s retirement fell through, we came up with a great way to cross promote one another.”

The front room of the bookstore has been converted into the new Eclectic Market, featuring the work of about seven local craftspeople.

Allen sold her home and hauled away 50 boxes of books she considered “deadwood,” so there was room for her to move into the back end of the shop. She soon discovered she enjoys being close to work.

Allen continues to operate Anne’s Book Place and makes it possible for Marks and the rest of The Eclectic Market (T.E.M.) vendors to have someone keeping shop for them.

For every sale in T.E.M., Allen is paid a 30% commission to cover her overhead.

The new arrangement has been working since May.

For Allen, it means regular contact with her book-buying customers. For Marks, it means she and other craftspeople have a storefront.

“The exposure is important, especially when you’re starting out,” she said.

Marks has also arranged with The Painted Cat on Christina Street, to feature all The Eclectic Market designers and artists in an artists’ collective at each First Friday event.

Among the products available at The Eclectic Market are microwavable comfort bags, wooden toys, women’s clothing, felted purses, deco mesh wreathes, jams, leather purses, scarves, hats, knitted sweater vests and crocheted mermaid’s tails.

Nothing retails for more than $50.

For more about Anne’s Book Place or The Eclectic Market call 519-491-1593. T.E.M. has a Facebook page and Marks can be emailed at [email protected].

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.

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