A collection of 40+ small business owners who typically sell at farmers markets, craft fairs, and other festivals, has a year-round point of sale at Artisan Collective, a new store at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets.
Jessica Brown, who co-owns the Artisan Collective with her husband Jason, said the inspiration for the business came from Blended, a similar business at Aurora Farms that closed in March.
“They closed and we were a seller there with our other company and we didn’t want to lose our audience at Aurora Farms,” she said, adding that she wasn’t sure why Blended was closing, but it wasn’t the reason “a lack of success.”
Much of the former blended business is now at Artisan Collective, including Wood Thingamajigs (The Browns’ Shop), Buckeye Blends, Sugar Scrubs, Simply Imagine, The Village Craftsman, Plum City Designs, Laughing Girls Designs, Stampin ‘Stitchin’ , Champion Chocolates, Talisman Shoppe and Brown Dog Design, said Jessica.
In addition to wanting a location at Aurora Farms, she said she and others were unable to attend farmers markets and other events this summer.
“Because of COVID, there are no more craft fairs and festivals and so on. This is where we sell our things,” said Jessica. “This is our chance to have a festival every day. Every week is better than the last.”
Artisan Collective has a wide variety of items that make great gifts, and Jessica expects her sales to grow as the holiday shopping season begins.
“Right now we’re near the end of school and will likely take some time off before the holidays,” said Jessica, a veteran and graduate of West Point. “The price points are over. You can get a small gift for stockings and the big gift.”
She said she and Jason could make some gift baskets for the holidays too.
The recent shutdown of Harry & David, a grocery store at Aurora Farms, allowed Artisan Collective to incorporate specialty foods that would otherwise have been difficult, said Jessica, who said the coffee bar with Obvious Coffee Co. beers was a draw.
“People will come in and get coffee and say, ‘Look at that shiny thing; I need that in my life,'” she said. “Eating wasn’t really an initial consideration, but when Harry & David walked two doors down we wanted to fill that void for people who miss it.”
Artisan Collective celebrated its grand opening on August 29th and 30th when some of the vendors sold their items with a grand opening.
“We’re going to have some events to attract people,” said Jessica. “We’re talking about ‘Sip and Shop’ events and networking events like a Chamber of Commerce coffee.”
It is helpful for these companies to have a fixed point of sale for farmers ‘market vendors during the week, but this could prove even more topical as the future of farmers’ markets is uncertain due to the disruption to business during the pandemic shutdown.
“I think it will be different,” said Jessica. “I think a lot of them probably can’t survive.”
She said many farmers’ markets are organized by promoters who run them as their job, but the lack of events this summer could lead some of them to seek other jobs.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, [email protected] and @bobgaetjens_rc.