North Fork Craft Gallery, a new Wading River store carrying the work of Long Island artisans, does not have an online store — and that’s for a few reasons.
One, many of the items are one-of-a-kind and the inventory frequently rotates.
But also, the shop’s owner feels customers will gain a better appreciation of the work by seeing them in person.
“To me, it’s really about the experience,” said owner Lyn Cooperman of Riverhead. “I really want people to come in and learn about the artists and hear about the process.”
The work of more than 50 artisans is spread out in the 400-square-foot space, which features product displays made from reclaimed wood and vintage-style pharmacy cases. Perusing the items, which include dollhouse miniatures made from polymer resin, sea glass jewelry, copper bowls and much more, feels more like browsing an art gallery than visiting a gift shop.
Other makers include ceramicists, quilters, wood workers, metal smiths and sculptors. Most of the artisans are from Suffolk County, with many hailing from the North Fork. The store also carries fair trade products from international artisans.
“We don’t discriminate,” said Cooperman, who had previously worked for corporate big box stores. A lover of vintage finds, the store was a longtime dream of hers.
The new shop is located at The Shoppes at East Wind, the 28-venture shopping complex located next to the catering hall of the same name. It features all independent stores like Cheese and Spice Market, Solntse Hot Yoga, Little Miss Sew It All sewing studio as well as a whimsical indoor carousel. Cooperman described the opening of the complex as “the perfect place and the perfect time” to launch her business.
“Our vision for The Shoppes was to create a shopping experience that isn’t available anywhere else and North Fork Craft Gallery is an important piece in making that a reality,” said Maria DiLeo, a spokeswoman for The Shoppes at East Wind.
Although the store carries the word “gallery” in its title, Cooperman doesn’t want customers to feel intimidated or that the products are unobtainable. Items start at just $5, she said.
Stores like North Fork Craft Gallery provide crafters with a way to connect with customers and expand their reach. Take wood and metal worker Eric Giles of Giles Nursery in Baiting Hollow for example. His work is better seen in person than described.
On display in the store is one of his striking chairs made from an antique tractor seat and car parts, a piece that mixes industrial with a country aesthetic.
“I enjoy making, and marketing is not my strong suit,” he said. “If I could have my way, I would be in the shop 24 hours a day. Galleries are a huge outlet for us in general.”
The artisans range in age from 14-year-old Alex Koch of Mattituck, who paints colorful scenes on stones, to octogenarian Robert Smol of Patchogue, who makes intricate wooden bowls, corncob holders, pens and more.
“He was our top seller in December,” Cooperman said.
For more information, visit The Shoppes at East Wind, 5768 Route 25A, Wading River, or visit northforkcraftgallery.com.