By TINA L.
Inspired Creativity Supplies & More, a new store offering craft supplies, is dedicated to inspiring creativity among those who visit to search for specific items or browse the entire selection.
Tanya Robl has opened a new store in Merrill at 705 S. Center Ave. Suite C. This was the former Stark Automotive building. This building was divided up into several suites to accommodate a variety businesses. Robl chose this location because it is spacious, has ample parking, and offers room for growth.
She opened her doors on August 21, 2023 and celebrated a Grand Opening with a party on August 26.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Robl said. She grew up in Merrill and remembers that the Ben Franklin used to have some craft supplies. Now Walmart does, too. But she always dreamed about a place for crafters to gather, get inspired and find the supplies they needed.
“I’ve always been a crafter,” she said, “And thought it would be a good idea to bring something like this to Merrill.”
She was an agronomist at VanderGeest Dairy, and she planned to retire soon. This gave her the perfect opportunity to open the store of your dreams. Her husband encouraged his wife to follow her dream. “You should open your craft store,” he said.
Robl said she had also been doing a “side hustle,” creating customized products like shirts, can koozies, and ornaments doing “sublimation, DTF (direct to film) transfers, vinyl transfers, and stuff like that” and she will continue to offer those ready-to-go products at the store.
“I like to share my creativity with other people,” she said. She can now do this and inspire others to be creative with her new store.
Renting personal crafting spaces
A private area will be set up in the back of the store for crafters to come and craft. They can also use some of her equipment and machines. “I will have the machines from my house, like my Silhouette, and I do have a heat press and a sublimation printer and stuff. Then there are some craft supplies for people to use. They’ll have access to a computer that’ll be in here, printing capabilities, stuff like that. I’m hoping before December … it’s a work in progress,” she said.
Inspired Creativity offers workshops in addition to the craft supplies they sell. The classes will be taught by local instructors, and held in a private room located at the rear of the store. Instructors rent space in the back of the store to teach classes. They set their own prices and include class supplies as part of the fee. Robl promotes the classes. The first two teachers are Robin Harder, and Rachel Olson. Classes can range from bead earrings and painting signs to other crafts. She plans to run workshops for children.
“Kid workshops are on Saturdays and adult workshops are on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, but Saturday mid morning is our kids ones. We’re going to try to do at least one a month for kids. Right now for the month of October and November, we have two scheduled for each month,” she said.
Robl claimed that she has been largely self-taught. In one weekend, for example, Robl taught herself how to crochet when she was couch-bound following a surgical procedure. However, she knows that most people prefer to be taught by someone who is able and willing to help them. That’s why her private crafting area and workshops are open to all kinds of learners.
Inspired Creativity has a Make-and-Take table where customers can make quick crafts at a lower cost. “There’ll be a kids one available and an adult one every week,” Robl said.
Recent examples of make-and take crafts include a beaded balloon wand and a macrame-keychain for kids. She anticipates there will be quite a few paper crafting projects, too, “just cause those are easy make-and-takes; you don’t really need somebody over there to explain it,” she said.
“There’s lots of crafts you can do, like easy crafts you can do with toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. You can do all sorts of things with toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. Or even clothes pins,” Robl said. She said that many crafts will be based on a holiday theme.
Yarn, markers, and paints – oh my.
Robl said she conducted an informal online survey prior to starting the store “to get a feel for what other people were looking for in town” so she could try to stock in-demand items in the shop.
The store is spacious and accessible to all, including those with disabilities. It has wide aisles, and plenty of room for expansion. The store has a wide range of products, including basic sewing notions, supplies for yarn crafts, such as crochet hooks and knitting thread, Bernat yarn, needle felting supplies, paracord for bracelets and necklaces, fat quarters for quilting and craft, Coats and Clark Thread, fiberfill, kits, embroidery floss, macrame materials, dye markers, and tie dye kits.Clothing and fabric paints. Fabric markers. Pouring paints. Resin art supplies. Distressed paints. Acrylic and tempera paints. Paint brushes. Foam brushes. Stencil brushes. Blanks. Wood shapes and blanks such as the alphabet, seasonal cutouts. Many of these are cut by local crafters.Mod Podge and craft tapes are available for scrapbooking or paper crafts. Adult coloring books and coloring books can be found in the Mod Podge section. Heat gloves and Silhouette supplies will also be on sale. Model kits, basketry, Silhouette, and model kits. School supplies such as crayons, markers, construction paper and a sculpting wheels, mosaic tiles and modeling clay. Robl stated that Color Wonder is a popular item right now.
Several items flew off of the shelves. “We had word search books and Sudoku books and stuff, but those are sold out already,” Robl said. They were selling out of their models as well. “These are the only two I have left,” she said pointing to the shelf. “Before we put the price tags out, we sold two of them.”
And “I had 3D puzzles up here, which were the first thing to be completely sold out, which was nice.”
Signs on their shelves remind customers: “Our shelves may look bare, but that is only because we are saving space for some awesome new inventory that will be coming in the next few months.”
“We will be getting more in,” Robl said. “A lot of our stuff is on back order yet. It’ll be trickling in until the end of November.”
Trends to watch in the future
Robl has seen how popular 3D Puzzles, Sudoku and Word puzzle books, as well as model kits, are.
“Macrame is also a big up-and-coming craft right now,” she said. “It’s coming back for sure. That’s one of the hottest up-and-coming crafts,” Robl said.
“Basketry is kind of making its way back,” she said. “I love doing basketry. We will be doing some basketry courses, coming up probably after the first of the year, because right now we’re on holiday crafts.”
“And one thing I’d like to carry in here eventually is stained glass,” she said. “But it’s hard to come by, because there’s only one main company, Delphi Glass, in Michigan. So it’s not far away, but shipping is hard for stained glass. It weighs a lot, and it’s very breakable.”
Robl said her distributors set her retail prices, so she’s assured her prices are competitive even though she’s a smaller retailer. “From what I understand, I am cheaper, if not the same price as other places,” Robl said. She said that she knows what the retail price is when she places her order. “If it’s something that I feel is too expensive, like for me to purchase, I’m not going to want to get it in my store because other people aren’t going to want to purchase it either. … So, if I see it’s way out of line, I’ll be like, no, I just won’t carry that. Or I’ll look for a different brand of it.”
The store is open from Monday to Friday, 10 am until 7 pm and Saturday 10 am until 4 pm.