Living a childhood dream...Nan's Country Crafts
Living a childhood dream
...Nan's Country Crafts
by Jennifer LB Leese
The making of crafts has been around for centuries while others are modern inventions, or popularization of crafts, which were originally practiced in a very small geographic area. During Colonial times, children's toys were made by hand, as were rugs to cover the floors, blankets to warm your bodies, chairs and tables to sit at to enjoy a meal, and clothing to put on our backs.
By definition, arts and crafts comprise a whole host of activities and hobbies that are related to making things with one's own hands and skill. Crafts may involve textiles, wood, metal, clay, paper or canvas, and even plants.
The term Arts and Crafts Movement was a social revolution veiled in a design movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, whose proponents included William Morris and Edwin Lutyens. They believed that medieval craftsmen achieved a joy and fulfillment in the excellence of their work, which they strove to emulate.
These activities are called "crafts" because originally many of them were professions under the guild system. Adolescents were apprenticed to a master-craftsman, and they refined their skills over a period of years in exchange for low wages. By the time their training was complete, they were well-equipped to set up in trade for themselves, earning their living with the skill that could be traded directly within the community, often for goods and services.
Today "crafts" are most commonly seen as a form of hobby or art.
Arts and crafts has grown in popularity, more due to want than need. Craft shows, festivals, and shops are found in just about every town--large and small. Many make their living from their "hobby" while others do it for enjoyment.
Locally, we have many as well, but one that stands out in particular is Nan's Country Crafts and Gift Shop in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.
With the college departure of their last child in 2005 Nancy Grove felt that the time was right to open a craft and gift shop from her home. Nan's Country Crafts opened the first week of October 2005 at 8561 Royer Road, Mercersburg.
After participating in local craft fairs and shows over 15 years ago, Nancy had little hesitance in turning her artistic avocation into a dream come true business. "When we were doing crafts shows my husband would cut out wood for santas, snowmen, shelves, wheel barrows etc. and I would paint the items. We do not sell at craft shows anymore. [However,] my husband and I both worked full time and could not keep up with the demand," said Nancy.
Nancy and her husband Pat redesigned their basement to accommodate the required need for display and storage of Nancy's products. "A dear friend of mine was behind me 100% and kept encouraging me to go for it. It had been a dream for most of my life so I figured why not. Her faith in me made me have faith in myself."
As many business owners already know, it's not just the goods you sell, it is also finding the right location at the right price. Nancy already had it. Having her business in her home, she is able to offer extremely competitive pricing with minimal overhead. "Since opening the shop I will try to have my husband do some woodworking and I will paint. For now, I am concentrating on supplying my customers with items they want and have little time for crafting." Nancy's main goal for her in-home business "is to provide quality products at reasonable costs".
Nan's Country Crafts offers a wide variety of gift items for those interested in either primitive or Victorian design. Primitive decor includes items such as prints, pictures, metal stars, plates, willow trees, lamps, pip berry wreaths, door hangers, and many more tasteful wares.
If you prefer Victorian, Nan's offers dolls, pictures, tea sets, wall hangings, scarves, jewelry, lamps and more.
Nan's Country Crafts also sells a beautiful selection of Colonial and Old Virginia candles. "These candles feature a primitive designed lid and primitive prints with double wicks for more efficient burning of the candle," said Nancy Grove. They also offer "a wide variety of melts and candle melters." For those who do not want to have an open flame there are battery operated candles and tea lights.
For many Christmas one time a year just isn't enough. Nan's Country Crafts also sells snowmen, santas, wall hangings and decorations in the Christmas theme all year round.
This Father's Day Nancy has carefully picked out a wonderful selection of Waggoner's Chocolates including coconut clusters, peanut clusters, turtles, sugar free items, caramel corn, mints, and chocolate covered pretzels. There are also a wide variety of gourmet coffees available for Dad, as well as flashlights that do not need batteries.
Fans of Nan's Country Crafts will rejoice as Nancy is looking into supplying children's items, baby items, and books for this holiday season. And with her husband doing the woodworking and she painting, she also hopes to make their own holiday items to sell. "Seeing something you handcrafted is a wonderful high," said Nancy.
When asked what she loves best about owning her own business out of her home, Nancy said, "It isn't far to travel. I close at 5:00 and can be home at 5:01."
The best part about starting your own business is the shopping trips beforehand. Nancy remembers one trip in particular: "While preparing to open [Nan's Country Crafts] my friend and I were constantly attending sales or flea markets to find furniture to sell and use in the shop. I remember one buying trip we had taken we purchased so much she and my husband had to unpack the van to get furniture I wanted. You should see my friend load a vehicle--she has it down to an art. It got to the point when my husband saw her coming he told her, 'Don't you dare bring one more thing. I can't even get into my shop without something rolling out.' Of course it was in good fun and did not stop either of us if we saw a good buy. You have to strike when the iron is hot."
With her family and friends behind her, Nancy is having fun living her dream. She leaves this for our readers: "I would like to encourage anyone that has a dream to never give up. Who knows whether a dream will be a success or not. The important thing to remember is you tried and gave it all you could. I know in my case my childhood dream came true and if the shop is a success that's great, but the important thing is I tried and am meeting some wonderful people along the way. I also had the help of the man upstairs and as the song goes "Jesus Take the Wheel" is what kept me going."