2017-10-11 / Business

Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild benefits artists and visitors

Shop is key cog of Margaretville business district
By Paula DeSimone

In a region that prides itself on its artists, there is no better showcase for their work than the Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild on Main Street in Margaretville.

For nearly a decade, regional fine artists have been able to show and sell their work in a historic building at the heart of the community. The Guild not only provides an outlet for the artists, but gives locals and visitors the opportunity to purchase high quality, hand-crafted give and home decorating items at reasonable prices. While there are numerous galleries out there serving painters and photographers, few places offer the depth and breadth of fine work found at the Guild. The store offers wood, glass, jewelry, fiber, candles, pillows, knitting, soaps, maple syrup, mosaics, toys, pottery, and more. It’s the perfect place to find something distinctive, different, hand-crafted and supports the local economy and up to 50 individual entrepreneurs.

Jill Cline is one of the original founders and is still in command having the last word on daily operations. She believes the co-op model on which the Guild was founded is the fiscal approach for success. Each artist is required to work at least monthly, must pay a share of the rent and gives a small percentage of monthly sales to the group for other expenses. “This strategy has made it viable for the artist and the Guild since inception. It’s not cost effective for artists to consign their work and this different scenario a cooperative approach, is the reason we have survived. We share the best of times and the worst of times,” says Cline.

Utilizing creativity

“The Guild started with hopes of the local resort developing a larger population and offering the artists a place to sell their wares. Since Hurricane Irene, the retail shop has struggled. “We’ve had to be very creative to keep up,” said Cline, :like developing the X-it Gallery.”

The X-it/Reuse Gallery was developed to increase revenue and save the locals from traveling a distance to buy craft products. It has grown tremendously and it now carries fabrics, art supplies, beads, picture frames, notions, jewelry supplies, yarn, books and magazines. All items are donations from artists and the public. The prices are very reasonable and new things are put out each week. Lots of children come in and buy something new they want to try. “It’s a perfect opportunity to experiment,” says Cline.

Online selling is virtually impossible for the Guild, “because our items are one-of-a-kind and each item needs to be photographed, edited, uploaded, shipped, etc., and needs daily attention,” says Cline. So the group must find other ways to attract visitors. The Guild participates in most Main Street promotions with popular craft projects that introduce new visitors to the co-op.

The artist participants and the items in the store inherently change over time due to an aging population, people moving away and some just find that the co-op arrangement does not work for them.

“We just added a new quilter” remarked Cline. Currently the biggest challenge for the Guild is finding new vendors who are interested in making a commitment. “Retail has changed a lot in the past ten years and we need to keep up, so we are always brainstorming new approaches to keep us on top,” continues Cline.

After a recent consolidation of store space, the Guild has some display pieces for sale like wooden shelving, jewelry cabinets and glass shelving available to anyone who is interested at greatly reduced prices.

The Guild is always looking for new artists and donations. For more information visit the shop any day from 10:00 a.m.-5 p.m. or call 845.586.4334.

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