St. Clair Shores artist Alysha Eckert admits many people questioned her sanity a year ago when she opened her boutique, The Junk Drawer Mercantile, amid the COVID pandemic.
Located on Harper Avenue, just north of 12 Mile Road, the small boutique offers a variety of handmade goods by local artists. Jewelry, clothing and accessories, cards and home decor are among the items available.
“Yeah, people definitely told me I was crazy doing that,” Eckert said. “But I believe in God and when I was working to put everything in place to do that, things just kept falling into place.”
Eckert believes the pandemic and the supply chain issues it has generated have prompted consumers to shop locally and make a special effort to buy from smaller businesses — especially those that sell locally grown or made items. This mindset helped Eckert thrive in his store’s first year of existence.
She specializes in making handmade panels as well as fiber art gnomes.
The Junk Drawer Mercantile also offers a variety of crafting classes, which is something else that has been influenced by the pandemic. People are interested in learning how to make things at home, whether it’s a scented candle, a beaded bracelet, a crochet octopus, or a greeting card.
Huntington Woods candle maker Kerriann Koss sells items from his Mugs & Other Jugs candle business to The Junk Drawer Mercantile and was outside the store during Saturday’s special first anniversary outdoor fair to teach people how to make candles. People could make their candle, then go shopping, and come back an hour later after their candle had dried to pick it up and take it home.
“There’s a lot more to it than people think,” said Koss, who has been making candles for four years. “Wick size is extremely important. And people don’t realize how many different types of wax there are. »
Soy wax is very popular right now, but paraffin wax, palm wax, beeswax, and coconut wax are just a few of the other options. Even if someone knows they want to use soy wax to make their candle, there are several types of soy wax to choose from.
“Fragrance oils are also tricky,” Koss said. “You want to get the right ones and the right mix and the right amount to make it smell good. You want it to smell nice, but not overpowering.
In its second year of existence, Eckert hopes to increase the class schedule at The Junk Drawer Mercantile and continue to offer a wide range of unique homemade items for sale. She would also like to organize more special events.
“We had a gnome adoption event and people went wild,” Eckert said. “I would love to do more fundraising events and private party class events too.”
The possibilities, even in the aftermath of a pandemic, Eckert says, are endless.