Ashland Artisan Emporium

What’s in a Name?

The comment I hear most often from our new customers is this: “I had no idea this place was so cool”, “so big”, “so unique”…(insert descriptive adjective here).

When people say this, I always wonder why that is? Could it be our location? We are in a pretty vanilla strip mall, tucked in between Wendy’s and the Dollar Store, (certainly not glamorous.) But, it is however, a practical location. No need to worry about parking, (as you would while trying to visit the “cool” stores downtown.)

The other possibility that there might be a general aura of mystique about what we truly offer is our name: Ashland Artisan Emporium. What does that mean? When I began planning to open this store I ran through a myriad of options when thinking of a name – some long, some short, some practical, some cool….until I eventually settled on, (what I thought), would describe what we do in three simple words. Ashland Artisan Emporium.

According to Dictionary.com an artisan is “a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods. And an emporium is “a large retail store selling a great variety of articles.” I have always loved the word “emporium”. It’s a word that covers so many bases and holds wonder and surprise. (Ever seen Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? The kind of wonder I felt while watching that movie was what I really wanted people to feel while strolling our aisles. Like walking into another world; a better world filled with a vast array of unique and fabulous items to make your life better, at least for a day.)

I think this name suits us, but it may also confuse customers because of the word “artisan”. While a large portion of our vendors are artists, most are not. While a large portion of our inventory is hand made, most is not. We have collectables and antiques as well as vintage finds. We have an eclectic mix of everything old and new and in between. So I think people may get caught up in the three words and just think of us as another art gallery or craft mall. Yes, we are those things, but we are also a furniture store, a consignment shop, an antique shop, a soap store, a chocolate shop and a jewelry store too!

It’s hard to sum all of that up into one brief name, so let us not forget as Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

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Ashland Artisan Emporium

The Ashland Artisan Emporium is owned by Michelle Christian, wife and mother of 3 daughters. Her husband, Travis, is the business manager for Adroit Construction in Ashland, Oregon. The Emporium was the vision of Michael Rydbom, Michelle's father. In April of 2010, Michael asked his daughter if she would be willing to help transform the old DJ's Video space into a crafter's marketplace. Michelle had always admired her dad's entrepreneurial spirit and was eager to make him proud, so even though she already had two kids, a real estate career and one more daughter on the way, she said yes. On November 1, 2010, the store opened it's doors to a welcome reception from the community. They were voted Best New Business of 2010 only months later by the Ashland Sneak Preview. Within weeks of opening, the store was at capacity and had quickly become the "go-to" store for all things unique and affordable.

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