Local art flourishes amid pandemic at St. Clair Shores shop – Macomb Daily

St. Clair Shores artist Alysha Eckert admits many people questioned her sanity one year ago when she opened her boutique, The Junk Drawer Mercantile, in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

Located on Harper Avenue just north of 12 Mile Road, the little shop has a variety of handmade wares from local artists. Jewelry, clothing and accessories, cards, and home decor are among the items available.

“Yes, people definitely told me I was crazy to do this,” said Eckert. “But I believe in God and when I was working to put everything together to do this, things just kept falling into place.”

Eckert believes the pandemic, and the supply chain issues it generated, made consumers more inclined to shop local and to make a special effort to shop at small businesses – especially those that carry items that are locally grown or made. That mindset has helped Eckert to thrive in her store’s first year of existence.

She specializes in crafting handmade signs as well as fiber-art gnomes.

St. Clair Shores artist Alysha Eckert makes signs and fiber-art gnomes to sell in her The Junk Drawer Mercantile boutique.(Photo by Susan Smiley)

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 no matter if it is a scented candle, a beaded bracelet, a crocheted octopus or a greeting card.

Huntington Woods candle maker Kerriann Koss sells items from her Mugs & Other Jugs candle business at The Junk Drawer Mercantile and was outside the store at Saturday’s special one-year anniversary outdoor vendor fair teaching people how to make candles. People could make their candle, then go and shop, and come back an hour later after their candle had cured to pick it up and take it home.

“There is a lot more to it than people think,” said Koss, who has been crafting candles for four years. “The wick size is extremely important. And people do not realize how many different kinds of wax there are.”

Soy wax is very popular right now, but paraffin wax, palm wax, beeswax, and coconut wax are just some of the other options. Even if someone knows they want to use soy wax to make their candle, there are several different types of soy wax from which to choose.

“The fragrance oils are tricky too,” said Koss. “You want to get the right ones and the right mix and amount so that it smells good. You want it to have a pleasant smell, but not be overpowering.”

In year two of its existence, Eckert hopes to grow the class schedule at The Junk Drawer Mercantile and to keep offering a wide array of unique homemade items for sale. She would also like to host more special events.

“We had an adopt-a-gnome event and people just went wild for it,” said Eckert. “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.

Anita Shire

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