My Biz: Marion couple tries to keep crafts captivating

Captivating Crafts stocks products from more than 20 vendors

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By R’becca Groff, correspondent

MARION — Larry and Nancy Smith started doing craft shows in 2007, but decided they wanted to open a store in 2013.

“We thought when we retired it would be good if we could find a nice location for the store,” Nancy recalled.

Nancy said they found their location, “but this place was quite the challenge because it didn’t have any heat, plumbing, electrical or reliable floors.”

It took the Smiths a full year to turn a vacant and old neglected house into the open-concept, welcoming craft shop they run together Thursdays through Saturdays.

“The floors and ceilings were sagging, so we had to prop all that up,” she said.

“We knocked out walls to open the space up, and removed some of the lathe and plaster and rebuilt everything.”

But first things first — they had a furnace installed so they could work inside the building.

The task was nothing new for the Smiths, however. The two had been flipping houses for 20 years — in addition to working full time in teaching and accounting — before retiring.

The Smith’s store, Captivating Crafts, officially opened for business in June 2014.

Captivating Crafts carries one-of-a-kind products from more than 20 different vendors from the around the state, including the Smiths themselves.

Their mission is to provide a friendly shopping experience in a well lit, uncluttered venue. The store is stocked with unique gift items including stain glass, window frame art, intricate wood intarsia, handmade jewelry, sewn items, metal and yard art, ceramics, clocks made from CDs, painted art pieces, cross stitch art, polymer clay products, edible birdhouses and handcrafted cards.

Many of the vendors welcome special orders, and the shop offers layaway as well as gift certificates.

Larry Smith described himself as “picky” when it comes to choosing which vendors to include at the shop.

“When I look at stain glass work, I don’t want to see any rough spots on the joints,” he said.

“We want to see their products, and we want to choose,” Nancy said. “What we are aiming for is a good quality product and a unique one, so you don’t end up with the same things that are showing up elsewhere.

“When you have that spot in your house that you want something different for, or you need a gift for that person who has everything, that’s what we aim for.”

One of the biggest challenges they face is staying ahead creatively and keeping their stock current.

“This year we’ve been more aggressive with changing out products,” Larry said. Vendors are given notice when it is time to do s.

“If you are not well ahead of it, you are behind it,” Larry said.

External factors such as the economy are always a concern, but the Smiths said they enjoyed a good post-holiday season this year and have been well received in the Marion retail scene.

Their also products are sold in the Welcome Center in Nashua as well as the Village Winery in the Amanas.

Larry noted that they have developed a good customer base.

“We have return customers coming from Waterloo, Ottumwa, Kalona, and even Galena, to purchase additional items from us now,” he said.

AT A GLANCE

Owners: Larry and Nancy Smith

Business: Captivating Crafts

Address: 1890 Seventh Ave., Marion

Phone: (319) 929-5926

Website: www.captivatingcrafts.com

l Know a company in business for more than a year that would make an ideal My Biz? Contact Francie Williamson at francie.williamson@thegazette.com

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