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January 10, 2013

Artists will stay Off Main

By Michelle Miller
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Artists Off Main is here to stay — for at least a year anyway.

Three local artists set up shop in the Hartwick Commons just before the holiday shopping season. At the time, the rental agreement was short-term. However, according to one of the artists, Karen Katz, a year contract has been signed.

“We had a really good holiday season and people really responded well to buying locally sold and made gifts.”

Originally, business partners Katz of Karen Katz Studio, Mary Dohner, of Mary Phyllis Handknits, and Tracey Helgeson, of The Painter’s Farm, wanted to create just a pop-up shop for the holidays. However, they said they have been greatly encouraged by the support and enthusiasm received from friends and members of the community to continue their business through 2013.

“We are very happy we have been given the opportunity to stay and will be working on more special events throughout the year,” Katz said. “We want to add more locally made art — pieces that will be exclusive to the shop.”

Katz said hours have been cut for January. The shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. However, she said, there are plans to have special events for the Cooperstown Winter Carnival so there will be longer hours in February.

“We will probably change our hours according to the season,” Katz said.

Customers can also call Katz at 434-3418 for an appointment.

The shop got its name because it is not located on Cooperstown’s Main Street, but instead about four miles away.

The idea to open a shop came about, Katz said, when getting her hair done at the neighboring salon, Shortcuts. Shortcuts used to be in the location where the handmade goods are sold now, and the property manager came into the hair salon to talk to the owner about not having rented the space and possible solutions to do so, Katz explained.

“She was considering doing a short-term seasonal rental,” Katz said. “That sounded perfect to me, and all of the sudden that was like a puzzle piece fitting together.”

Katz said everything happened rather quickly.

“We peeled wallpaper, painted and moved in,” she said.

A preview was held on Nov. 16 and a grand opening on Nov. 17.

“From the first day we moved everything in it seemed right. The three of us each brought in our own furniture and our own pieces, and everything seemed to fit perfectly,” Katz said.

Helgeson said the women have always talked about one day opening their own shop, especially whenever a business would go out of business.

“We would always tell one another, ‘oh, that space would be perfect for us to open our own shop,’” she said.

For now everything in the shop is made by the three women and most is sourced locally, according to Katz. Items range in price from $5 lip balm to large paintings that cost more than $1,000.

“Most of what we have is in the $20 to $75 range,’ Katz said. “The idea is not just to shop locally, but to shop locally for products that are handmade locally, which is not as easy to do as you may think.”