June 18, 2011

Artique Co-op: A unique shopping experience

Marcelle and Lauren, fellow crafters, at the Artique checkout
When I first walked in, I was immediately taken aback by the delightful range of visuals. On my left, was a beautiful antique hand-carved wood screen door, and on my right was friendly staff at the counter ready to help me find what I needed. There were gorgeous handmade, unique items everywhere offered by over a hundred independent vendors. The merchandise range from jewelry to stationary, hand made soaps to antique bowls, re-purposed, antique items, and much much more, all displayed thoughtfully and beautifully in vendor "booths". But "booth" is really not the right word because it looks nothing like the long windy aisles of home shows or craft fairs. However diverse the merchandise and vendor personality, the store really looks cohesive as a whole and feels much more homey and interesting than any craft fair could ever be.

The concept of the co-op is an old one. I'm used to grocery co-ops, and even recently learned about daycare co-ops. In the case of an art co-op, vendors pay a small monthly fee in exchange for space in the store. The larger the space, the higher the fee. Also, vendors are encouraged to work on some aspect of the store, such as putting in hours as sales associates. It's like Etsy.com but in a physical store setting and without the cost of shipping! This kind of co-op is ideal for the small scale crafter for many good reasons. First of all, no need to spend a great amount of money and time renting and running a entire store. The co-op provides everything from utilities, security, friendly staff (who are also crafters), paper bags, and even down to the detail of easy to remove price tags. Each price tag includes the "booth number" and the sales staff keeps track at the checkout of earnings per booth. Then the store pays vendors every two weeks on items that sold. The co-op also advertises regularly which spreads the cost and the benefits across all the vendors. What a great way to get exposure for crafts and also for customers to see a myriad of unique items in one place! And what a fun way to support local artisans and boost local economy!

The co-op is also a great place to meet like minded people. It's not uncommon that conversations struck up between customers while browsing. Also when artists work as sales associates, they meet other artists and get to hear first hand feedback from their customers. I can't wait to go back for unique gifts for birthdays, weddings, or new babies down the road. It was really hard to resist buying up really cute things that I knew I didn't really need. 5700 square feet worth of local crafts made with love, you're bound to find something that you can't leave the store without. Checkout the Artique website for more info and upcoming events.

Store hours are: 
Monday - Friday 11am to 7pm
Saturday - 10am to 6pm
Sunday - 12pm to 4pm

Where to find it: (map)
Located inside plaza on Cresent road in Clifton Park, off of Exit 8 from the Northway (I-87)
1536 Crescent Rd.
Clifton Park, NY 12065

Do you know other co-ops like this in other areas? Have a favorite gift shop you want to share? Or have you been to Artique and want to share your experience? Leave a comment!

2 comments:

  1. Hi Jenn!
    Love your blog! I am Angela’s business partner, Elizabeth. Thanks for doing this post on Artique! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to the shop! I hope to see you back!
    Just want to clear up a common misconception. Although we have a wide selection of very talented artists and crafters, we are not exclusively handmade. Our goal is to promote small local businesses. We view our co-op as a community of business owners working together to thrive in a retail setting. I feel it’s important to mention this only because we value all of our vendor’s contribution to the community, and I would hate for any non-crafters to feel alienated or unwelcome. Also, I think it’s important that we are clear about who we are so that we don’t confuse our customers! Do you know what I mean?

    I recently started my own blog…. it’s still really in the building content stage but, I wrote a bit about Artique if you are interested…. http://lucidlightdesigns.blogspot.com/2011/06/i-am-starting-this-blog-because.html

    Would love to pick your brain about the blogging world! Thanks again!

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  2. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for clearing up the not exclusively hand-made part! I love the store and the concept, I think its a great way to build community. I will check out your blog and would love to share best practices. By the way, Angela told me you also helped out at our wedding a couple years ago! I guess I was kind of busy that day so didn't get a chance to meet you. Looking forward to meeting you in person!

    ReplyDelete

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