By Jeff Fox
A shop with about 40 years of history on the Independence Square could be closed in a few weeks.
Dru Lewis, who owns and manages The Craft Shop, plans to retire. The scheduled last date is Dec. 24. She said it was a hard decision and has been tough on the approximately 50 crafters who rent booth space.
“They’re all sad. I think every one of them would stay if the opportunity arrives,” she said.
The shop started in the Square Courthouse, selling crafts mostly made by seniors. It was in that space for about 35 years. About five years ago, the Jackson County Historical Society kicked the group out as officials prepared to massively renovate that building. It was rededicated in September.
The Craft Shop moved across the street to The Emporium at the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue, and at the time crafters talked of wanting to get back into their well-known spot in the courthouse. But that building is now full of offices and other uses, and Lewis says that’s fine. The shop has grown, now taking more space than it ever had with the county.
“Everything is hand-made. And that’s the beauty of it. … Really, there is not any place like it,” Lewis said.
Through all of that, the crafters have stuck with it, and 16 of them also volunteer to operate the shop.
“It’s all run by volunteers,” Lewis said.
The Square does several promotions to draw traffic, but Lewis says shop is largely unaffected by that, having become a destination that draws customers on its own.
“That’s it exactly. We’ve seen it over and over,” she said.
She adds, “We have regulars that come to town and make this their stop.”
Although the items presumably fall under what most consumers would call discretionary spending, Lewis said sales run toward practical items: kitchen towels, baby sweaters, baby blankets.
“You can mix in the fun, frivolous things, but for the most part it’s the basics,” she said.
On the other hand, candles and soaps have done well, and a line of hand-made greeting cards and gift bags sells well, she said.
Lewis herself makes clothes for the 18-inch version of the popular American Girl dolls, and she said that business is brisk.
“Oh, very. I can’t keep up with it,” she said.
Lewis is leaving the door open to finding a buyer who would keep the shop running.
“I’d be happy to work close with them,” she said.