December 31, 2012

New gift shop to support ARC


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Made By Me is more than a gift shop: It’s a place where people can purchase locally created crafts while supporting a local non-profit organization.

The shop, which appears to be more like a nicely decorated family home than a retail outlet when visitors first enter, is owned and operated by the Advocacy and Resource Center of Clinton County.

“We bought this house (located on Tom Miller Road a half mile beyond Smithfield Blvd.) a year ago and were going to open it as a home for people with disabilities, but there just wasn’t funding for that,” said ARC Executive Director Theresa Garrow.

“The idea of a craft shop just developed from that point, and it has gone really well,” she said of the store’s success since opening Thanksgiving week.

The concept for an ARC gift shop was actually born a few years ago through artwork created by students of local art teacher Sharon Deitering, who passed away earlier this year.

Those gift cards represent just a small selection of the kinds of crafts available at Made By Me.

“I knew we had some staff members who were talented and could provide some quality items (for a gift shop), so we brought the idea to the board, and they gave us the OK to go ahead with the idea,” she said.

She contacted staff members and ARC clients to start collecting merchandise that could be included in the store’s inventory.

Then, during the annual ARC art show held in October, she asked several area crafters if they were willing to include some of their work in the soon-to-open store. The response was overwhelming, she said.

“The whole idea is to have a collection of handmade, local artwork. We didn’t want to label items (created by) disabled and non-disabled (artists) but wanted to display them all in one collection.”

Local crafters on display include William Betts and his Tears of Lake Champlain glass work, including vases he put together from bits and pieces of glass he collected along the lake’s shoreline, Mike McGrath’s iron work products, Jim Hubbell’s Adirondack furniture and Carla Strauss’s fully-jointed teddy bears.

There are also many quilts, jewelry and woodwork created by ARC staff and clients.

ARC receives 30 percent of the profits from items sold, and those funds go directly into ARC programs.

“As funding becomes more difficult to find, it’s important for agencies like ours to try to get into other types of money-making projects,” Garrow said. “I doubt we’ll make a million dollars, but it’s a nice idea to support local artists while supporting our local programs.”

The one-story ranch house was actually built by the former homeowners but has been given a new life as a unique gift shop. ARC renovated the home by giving it a more open feel as shoppers wander from room to room.

The freshly refurbished hardwood floors make visitors stop and wonder whether they should remove their shoes before entering, but there is no need as employees like Tarissa Healey and Brooke Maynard welcome them inside with a warm greeting.

The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (4 p.m. on Sundays) but will close on Mondays following the holidays.

Made By Me may have that perfect last-second gift or the perfect selection for post-holiday shopping, but it offers the visitor a warm, friendly atmosphere with lots of attractive and locally created items.

Email Jeff Meyers: