Inspired Creativity Supplies and More opens in Merrill
BY TINA L. SCOTT
With supplies pertinent to a wide variety of different crafts, Inspired Creativity Supplies and More is a new craft supply store set on doing just as the name implies, inspiring creativity in those who come in to look for particular supplies or to browse all that they have to offer.
Tanya Robl opened her new store at 705 S. Center Ave., Suite C, Merrill, in the building that was at one time Stark Automotive. That building has now been divided to make suites for a variety of businesses, and for Robl, the location is spacious with ample parking and room to grow.
She opened her doors to the public on Aug. 21, 2023, and celebrated with a Grand Opening on Aug. 26.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Robl said. Having grown up in Merrill, years ago the Ben Franklin had some craft supplies and now Walmart has some things, she said, but she dreamed of a place where crafters could congregate, be inspired, and also get the supplies they need to pursue their crafting hobbies or explore new ones.
“I’ve always been a crafter,” she said, “And thought it would be a good idea to bring something like this to Merrill.”
Prior to starting the store, she worked full-time as an agronomist for VanderGeest Dairy and was planning to retire, so that set the timing for her to start the store of her dreams. Her husband encouraged her to pursue that dream. “You should open your craft store,” he said.
Robl said she had also been doing a “side hustle,” creating customized products like shirts, can koozies, and ornaments doing “sublimation, DTF (direct to film) transfers, vinyl transfers, and stuff like that” and she will continue to offer those ready-to-go products at the store.
“I like to share my creativity with other people,” she said. Her new store provides the opportunity for her to do that and foster creativity in others, as well.
Personal crafting space for rent
The store features a private work area in back that will soon be available for a small fee so crafters can come in to craft, utilize some of the machines and equipment she has in house, and just enjoy a little personal time. “I will have the machines from my house, like my Silhouette, and I do have a heat press and a sublimation printer and stuff. And then some certain craft supplies in here for people to utilize. They’ll have access to a computer that’ll be in here, printing capabilities, stuff like that. I’m hoping before December … it’s a work in progress,” she said.
In addition to craft supplies for sale, Inspired Creativity will also offer workshops to teach people different crafts, with a variety of classes provided by a number of different local instructors in a private crafting classroom located in the back of the store. The instructors rent the space to hold classes there and set their own fees for the classes, with class supplies included in the price, and Robl helps promote the classes. So far Robin Harder and Rachel Olson are the first teachers. Classes may range from making bead earrings to painting signs to all kinds of crafts. She also plans to offer workshops for kids.
“Kid workshops are on Saturdays and adult workshops are on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, but Saturday mid morning is our kids ones. We’re going to try to do at least one a month for kids. Right now for the month of October and November, we have two scheduled for each month,” she said.
Robl said she is pretty much self-taught. For instance, she taught herself to crochet in a weekend, when she was couch bound after a surgical procedure, she said. But she recognizes that many people learn better from someone else demonstrating in person and providing assistance, so her workshops and private crafting area help all types of learners.
Inspired Creativity also has a make-and-take table with less expensive quick crafts customers can do right at the table in the store. “There’ll be a kids one available and an adult one every week,” Robl said.
Examples of recent make-and-take crafts include a macrame keychain and a beaded bubble wand for the kids. She anticipates there will be quite a few paper crafting projects, too, “just cause those are easy make-and-takes; you don’t really need somebody over there to explain it,” she said.
“There’s lots of crafts you can do, like easy crafts you can do with toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. stuff like that. Or even clothes pins,” Robl said. Many crafts will focus on an upcoming holiday theme, she said.
Yarn and markers and paints, oh my!
Robl said she conducted an informal online survey prior to starting the store “to get a feel for what other people were looking for in town” so she could try to stock in-demand items in the shop.
Inspired Creativity is large and spacious, handicap accessible and handicap friendly, with wide aisles and lots of room for growth. The store already stocks lots of products: basic sewing notions; supplies for yarn crafts including crochet hooks and knitting needles, crochet thread, and Bernat yarn; needle felting supplies; paracord for necklaces and bracelets; fat quarters (fabric) for quilting and crafts; Coats and Clark thread; fiberfill; kits; embroidery floss; macrame materials; dye markers, tie dye kits, etc.; clothing and fabric dyes, fabric markers; pouring paints; resin art supplies; Distressed ink pads and Distressed Paints; acrylic and tempera paints, paint brushes, foam brushes, stencil brushes, and blanks (canvases and wood blanks for painting); wood shapes and blanks like the alphabet and seasonal cutouts (many cut by a local crafter), cutting boards, etc.; crafting tools; adhesives like craft tape, E6000, and glitter glue; Mod Podge products; scrapbooking and paper crafts; coloring books, adult coloring books; heat gloves; Silhouette supplies; basketry supplies; model kits; school supplies like crayons, markers, and construction paper; laminating pouches; gel pens, calligraphy pens, and drawing pens; kids craft stuff including Color Wonder, a few beads, some window art, loops for looms, a sculpting wheel, mosaic tiles, modeling clay, and Diamond Art diamond painting. Robl said Color Wonder and diamond painting are popular right now.
Some items almost flew off the shelves. “We had word search books and Sudoku books and stuff, but those are sold out already,” Robl said. Their inventory of models was going fast, too. “These are the only two I have left,” she said pointing to the shelf. “Before we put the price tags out, we sold two of them.”
And “I had 3D puzzles up here, which were the first thing to be completely sold out, which was nice.”
Signs on their shelves remind customers: “Our shelves may look bare, but that is only because we are saving space for some awesome new inventory that will be coming in the next few months.”
“We will be getting more in,” Robl said. “A lot of our stuff is on back order yet. It’ll be trickling in until the end of November.”
Up and coming trends
So far Robl has already seen that 3D puzzles, word puzzle and Sudoku puzzle books, and model kits are incredibly popular.
“Macrame is also a big up-and-coming craft right now,” she said. “It’s coming back for sure. That’s one of the hottest up-and-coming crafts,” Robl said.
“Basketry is kind of making its way back,” she said. “I love doing basketry. We will be doing some basketry courses, coming up probably after the first of the year, because right now we’re on holiday crafts.”
“And one thing I’d like to carry in here eventually is stained glass,” she said. “But it’s hard to come by, because there’s only one main company, Delphi Glass, in Michigan. So it’s not far away, but shipping is hard for stained glass. It weighs a lot, and it’s very breakable.”
Robl said her distributors set her retail prices, so she’s assured her prices are competitive even though she’s a smaller retailer. “From what I understand, I am cheaper, if not the same price as other places,” Robl said. She said she can see what the retail price will be when she places an order. “If it’s something that I feel is too expensive, like for me to purchase, I’m not going to want to get it in my store because other people aren’t going to want to purchase it either. … So, if I see it’s way out of line, I’ll be like, no, I just won’t carry that. Or I’ll look for a different brand of it.”
Inspired Creativity Supplies and More accepts credit and debit cards and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.