Ashland Artisan Emporium Turns 5!

Get ready to party and save big at our annual storewide sale!

Mark your calendars for November 14th! Ashland Artisan Emporium will be hosting their annual anniversary party and storewide sale. For one day only, they will be taking 15% off EVERYTHING in the store! This only happens once a year, so now’s the time to start your local holiday shopping! While you do that, enjoy complimentary cookies and treats along with cider and wine! They will be open from 11am to 5pm, featuring live music from The Ed Dunsavage Trio with Joe Cohoon and Chicken Hirsh from 2pm to 5pm. Also, you can sign up to win valuable gift certificates to use in store! You won’t want to miss this grand opportunity to see what over 180 local vendors have displayed for you in a fun and festive environment! They have amazing, hard-to-find, unique and quality items for all people! If you haven’t been in yet, this is YOUR grand invitation!   

We headed down to the Emporium to speak with Michelle about the momentum and growth the business has experienced over the past five years.

Michelle, five years in business! Congratulations! Tell us more about your accomplishments.

Thank you Shields! I can’t believe it’s been five years already. What a road it has been! The first couple of years seemed to be paved with heartbreak and difficulties. Losing my father and having a baby within the first four months of opening nearly killed me.  My father was also my mentor and business partner as well, and losing him so unexpectedly knocked me flat on my face. After he first died, I didn’t think I could make this thing happen – and to be honest, I didn’t want to. It was only the encouragement from the vendors, shoppers, community members and my family that gave me the energy to carry on and carry out the idea that my dad had. This shop was his vision, so after I lamented his loss and cried enough, I decided to get off my booty and make it happen for HIM. Over the past two years our growth has been amazing! Our booths are full and our wait list is so long I decided to stop adding names to it until I can cycle through it a bit. I hate to give hopeful vendors a false estimate of when they can vend with us. The wait is long! In the meantime, I have considered building more booths or coming up with more creative use of space to fit even more wonderful and talented vendors into the shop. The vendors have blown me away with the creativity and hard work in bringing great products to the shop. I really owe the beauty of this store to all of them.

It took some time to build and curate the collection of vendors you currently have. Please tell us about the process.

Yes, we opened in November of 2010 at half-capacity. Over time, we certainly filled up – but we have also seen many vendors come and go. In the beginning, there was no rhyme or reason to who we allowed to vend because we didn’t have the luxury to choose. Now we do, so it’s the changed the game a bit.  

I like the collaborative marketplace in which everyone is working to help improve the game of the others.

Yes, it certainly lends itself to a dynamic shopping experience. The current vendors really have to hustle to not only bring good inventory but to display it in a way that pleases the customer. I find that the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality has creeped in a bit and has forced the vendors to really make sure their booth is competitive. This brings more shoppers in and benefits everyone here. The shopper can be assured that when they come in they will find new products every time, even if they come in every single day! With over 180 vendors, someone is bound to be here working and re-stocking any minute of any given day. The vendors learn what sells and what doesn’t and they adjust their inventory accordingly.  

The store is so big and the inventory so vast, what if I just don’t have time to do all the treasure hunting to find a specific item that I need?

Easy! Just ASK US! My staff is highly knowledgeable in knowing where things are or suggesting areas that might suit you. We are all eager to help and will go a long way to find what you need! You can even call ahead with a request and we can have it waiting for you by the time you arrive. Just last week I had a lovely customer call ahead for a feather boa. And if we don’t have it, we take special requests and pass those along to our vast list of vendors who might be able to find it elsewhere and bring it to us for the customer! We love nothing more than connecting a customer with the item they need. A lot of customers can be intimidated by our size, but if you rely on my helpful staff, your experience here will always be pleasant and productive. So even if you have five minutes and one thing in mind, come on in and put us to the test. Don’t let our size turn you off!  

So you have feather boas? What are some other things a shopper might find there?

Oh my goodness, we have thousands and thousands of items of all sorts! I am constantly amazed at what comes in and out of our doors! And literally every member of your family could find something lovely here. We have clothing, shoes, purses, luggage, vintage items, antiques, dishes, kitchen gadgets, jewelry, rocks, crystals, home décor, collectibles, artwork, cards, hemp clothing, hot pads, magic wands, play swords and shields, books, journals, jewelry boxes, CDs, DVDs, LPs, instruments, furniture, paper bead jewelry, fairy skirts… and on and on and on! I couldn’t possibly list everything!

What are some of the more interesting or unique things you’ve seen there?

This week we had an antique scale come in. Pop in a penny and you get your weight. Pop in a nickel and you get your weight plus your horoscope! Amazing! It works and would be a great statement piece for someone’s home. Because the vendors are free to bring in whatever they choose, the variety is always eclectic. We have high-waisted acid wash jeans and moustache wax, old radios and a cellular phone circa late 80’s, but also brand new items and handmade things such as birdseed wreaths, pottery, and hand-painted décor signs for your home or office.

A lot of your vendors carry clothing. Tell us about that niche.

Yes, our clothing inventory has greatly increased over the years. Pre-owned clothing has become not only popular, but necessary in today’s economy. It’s also eco-friendly! We have some really high quality booths filled with name-brand clothing that would satisfy even the most discerning fashionista! It’s not grandma’s old clothing or the stuff your neighbor couldn’t sell at her yard sale. We have a booth devoted entirely to brands you would find at major retailer Anthropologie, including Maeve and Free People. We have Frye boots and a booth filled with brands such as Helmut Lang, Lululemon, Zara, Banana Republic, Gap, Lands End, Theory, Top Shop and Club Monaco. I just found a silk top with original Oscar De La Renta tags on, retail price of $500 and a brand-new-with-tags Moschino dress. We also have brand new pashmina scarves from Nepal, and the proceeds of those sales go directly to help the victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal. We also just unveiled a booth devoted entirely to men.

Do you get a lot of men through your doors?

More and more are coming through! This style of shopping is usually more favored by women, but I can’t tell you how many times I hear men tell me that their wives or girlfriends dragged them in, and then they don’t want to leave! Thus the demand for men’s clothing. It’s not fair, men are limited when it comes to pre-owned clothing, so we are excited to now have an easy-to-locate booth geared just for their fashion needs. We also have a sports booth and an old tool booth – not to mention a brimming furniture section which appeals to men and women alike.

Yes, I see two large open areas filled with furniture. Tell me about that area.

That’s our consignment area which is separate from our booth spaces. We manage that area a little differently. We accept fine pieces of furniture on consignment from anyone. You don’t have to be a booth vendor. A different lease is required and we only take 25% commission on the sale of those items. We take a lower consignment fee than any other place I know. That is how we are able to keep furniture rates low and constantly move inventory so there is always something new when you need it. If you are interested in selling furniture with us, give us a call!

So as we turn our thoughts to the gift-giving season, how are you gearing up?

We are kicking off our favorite season with this anniversary party and sale on November 14th. This is a great opportunity to come see what we have for everyone on your list. We pride ourselves on being all local. Your money stays here in the Rogue Valley and benefits hard-working families that truly care about the products they display. If you care at all about being eco-friendly and shopping responsibly, you can feel good about anything you buy from us. There’s no need to waste gas and time driving to Medford to buy one of a million reproduced plastic “things” imported from China. Before you get on the freeway, come to us. I personally guarantee that you will find a gift for someone on your list or something for yourself. If you don’t, contact me and I will buy you a Dutch Bros gift card. That’s a promise.

Ok, tell us more about this party on November 14th.

It’s going to be a blast. We are having great live music from a fun, jazzy group called The Ed Dunsavage Trio with Joe Cohoon and Chicken Hirsh. They are a great local band. They’ll be playing from 2 to 5 that day. I will also be inviting our vendors to bring a dish for a potluck style get-together. This will give the customers a chance to meet the people that procure these fabulous booths, and also give the vendors a chance to meet and greet with each other. We are all so busy that it’s important to take time out to meet our neighbors and be inspired by each other’s passions and talents. And it doesn’t hurt to have cookies, cider and wine involved. Pair all of that with 15% off everything in the store, and I really can’t think of one reason to miss this event!

Ok, that party is November 14th –  sale all day, music and food from 2pm to 5pm.

Yes! Mark it down on your calendar right now.

Last but not least, how do you see the Emporium continuing to evolve over the next five years?

That’s the fun part, we are just getting started! I feel like the foundation has been built. Policies and rules that work have been set into place. My staff is strong, we love each other, we love this business. With that as our foundation, we can really start to focus on what the community wants to see from us. Our booths will continue to improve, and the level of professionalism will continue to grow. I would love to hold community events and see more vendor participation. Events are labor-intensive and expensive, but they are also productive and a lot of fun. If I can get more vendors on board, we can hold more of them and expand our customer base. I feel like I am just the team leader of the Emporium; we are all in this together with the same goals. I want to build on that idea. I am so proud of how far we have come, and what these amazing people have helped me to create. For me, it always comes back to my dad. He’s the reason we are all here to begin with. Every success we have is directly related to him, the vision he had and the risk he was willing to take. This really drives me every day, feeling his spirit here with me as I walk through these doors. He was such a kind-hearted badass. And in the end, that’s all I really want to be in everything I choose to do.


Learn More:
Ashland Artisan Emporium
1670 Ashland St.
Ashland, OR
(541) 708-0577
Check out their website here

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Shields Bialasik

Hi, I am Shields. I am the creator or LocalsGuide. The mission or my company is to provide a positive media platform for my community which in turn makes it stronger and more resilient. I hope you will enjoy and feel inspired to start your own LocalsGuide in your town or community.

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