Craft show devotees will recognize Rachel Joy VanRooyen as a mainstay at arts and craft shows across Ontario. She has set up shop in shows including Goderich’s Art in the Park, the Owen Sound Fine Arts show, as well as shows in London, Sarnia, Tara, Southampton and as far away as North Bay, sometimes participating in as many as 30 shows annually.
After more than 25 years selling at trade shows, VanRooyen could only stand by and watch as craft show after craft show was cancelled. She decided it was time to open a retail store, and chose to offer her well-known products in the heart of Kincardine. Her new shop, Ampersand Gift Studio is open for business.
“I am a person who is lucky enough to enjoy doing what she does for a living,” said VanRooyen. “In 2020 all of my shows were cancelled, so I had to start thinking of new ways to share my jewellery with my customers. This little shop is my pivot.”
The store, which opened on June 11, features a variety of items that are her own creation, including handmade jewellery, and wooden beads and shapes that she dyes, paints and fastens together with wire. She makes her own glass beads, fashioned with a process called lamp-working.
She is using her new space to support other artists she has met over the years by offering their inventory for sale in her store. Green Dragonfly Pottery, the pottery of Carolyn Showler-Lee and Trendy Totes all have space on her shelves.
While she may participate in craft shows once again, after restrictions allow, right now her focus is on her new studio and welcoming past and new clients.
“Being unable to do shows for the past eighteen months, I've really missed my fellow artisans and my customers,” said VanRooyen. “My new brick and mortar shop is a great way to connect with everybody again and I'm proud and excited that my business is now part of beautiful downtown Kincardine.”
Ampersand Gift Studio is located at 953 Queen Street, and is open Tuesday through Sunday. The website, www.ampersandgiftstudio.ca lists hours of operation as well as a photo gallery of items offered for sale.
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent