Ben Franklin Crafts ran out of one supply before the store even opened its doors.
An order of 4,000 pegs, used to hang displays in the new craft store in northeast Brainerd, ran out to the amazement of owner Julie Walsh.
From mid-June to mid-September Walsh and her crew of family and employees worked to transform the former carpet and antique store in northeast Brainerd into a crafters' haven.
Forty to 50 feet of beads. Twenty-five feet of scrapbook paper. Twenty-five feet of stickers.
Ben Franklin features about 27 aisles with crafts from beads to scrapbooking supplies. Plans are to add more stickers for scrapbook fans. A back area will also be used for classes or scrapbook get-togethers.
"Our sticker department will be expanding," Walsh said. "I'm told we don't have enough."
Other areas also will be expanding, including the fabric area. By November, a back section of the store will be set up for craft classes or scrapbook sessions.
After working in the store for months before opening the doors, Walsh said the first time customers came in it was oddly like having strangers in your living room.
Customer reaction could be said to be enthusiastic.
Ben Franklin Crafts opened Sept. 17 in northeast Brainerd in the former Tyke's carpet building along Highway 210 just past the intersection. Preparations began in mid-June to put the craft store together.
"I had two women jerk me over the counter just to hug me," she said.
Stencils, floral-greenery, birdhouses, craft paint, modeling clay, frames, feathers, felt, pompons, shells, needlepoint supplies, yarn, fabric, rubber stamps, quilling paper, cake decorating equipment and seasonal decor have replaced antiques and carpet rolls.
A coffee bar is set up in the front of the store. Early next year a custom frame shop is planned to open.
Customers range from teenagers in search of beads to young parents and senior citizens. Men, as well as women, are coming through the door.
A man came in recently looking for a card for his anniversary, but did not find a traditional card rack.
Walsh said they pointed him to one of the aisles with blank cards and intricate cutouts to personalize them.
Small long-stemmed roses were added to the card he created. Workers guessed he was going to get more points for his efforts.
"I'm anxious to hear now," Walsh said.
Julie and Brian Walsh, owners of Brian's Welding Inc. in southeast Brainerd, started looking for another business enterprise about three years ago.
Now Julie Walsh still puts in time at Brian's Welding for monthly book work and spends the rest of her working hours in Ben Franklin Crafts.
Walsh said the store filled a void left after the former Ben Franklin store closed its doors in the East Brainerd Mall.
Her mother, Jan Allee, relocated from Montana to help set up the store. Allee, an accomplished sewer, used her expertise to set up the yarn and fabric areas.
Walsh plans to have wish lists at the counter so customers can fill them out and the store will mail the lists to anyone on their address.
Christmas offerings in the store may not have as much as some customers hope. Walsh said holiday orders were made last January.
Walsh has a passion for taking the crafts and arts to those who may not be able to come to her, such as area seniors from the North Star Apartments in Brainerd to the growing list of senior housing complexes.
Options include a monthly stop at senior housing, leaving an order book there and then having a delivery of ordered goods to the seniors.
And Walsh had an early goal of working with teachers to incorporate crafts and art in the schools.
Walsh said, as a resident of northeast Brainerd, she is happy to have the business on the east side of the city. Walsh said former Ben Franklin owners were supportive. And she credits her employees.
"You cannot run a successful business without successful people behind you and beside you and they are very supportive," she said.
The store employs six full-time workers and six part-time employees.
Employee Lynda Groshong worked 26 years at Potlatch. She said the store offered an opportunity to get back into retail, which she regretted leaving years ago.
Groshong agreed working at the craft store was a little like being a fox in a chicken house. She has several craft projects of her own going, including scrapbooking, quilting and cross-stitching.
The store is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Walsh said there have been requests for crocheting, knitting and watercolor classes. She plans to have gourd painting classes and a class for scrapbooking.
Last week an older man looked for something to make candles last longer. A woman and her young son looked through the floral section where fabric ivy leaves simulated the real thing. She said the prices were part of the draw to Ben Franklin.
Before going out the door another boy was attracted to a display.
"Look mom you could make this."
Walsh said she plans to be in the craft store until she retires.
"Grow with us -- that's what we are asking."
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