Crafters of the Loft open in Hersey

HERSEY – Joanne Rolston dreamed of someday opening a craft store.

When Hersey Roller Mills owner Larry Trombley offered her the space above his newly renovated convenience store, Rolston’s dream came true.

After Rolston and a friend successfully sold their handmade items last year in the space, she decided to invite additional vendors this year and name the business.

The Crafters of the Loft opened earlier this month and offers displays from 18 vendors so far. Shoppers can find hand-made merchandise from Christmas items and Amish-made furniture, to pop-tab necklaces and knitted doll outfits.

“We’ve got things for guys, things for gals, things for everyone,” Rolston said.

Hunting for talented local crafters to fill the space with items, Rolston sought individuals who made a variety of different items. She wanted many different types of displays in the loft and encouraged first-time crafters to sell creative items they may have made initially as a hobby.

“People don’t realize how much talent they have,” Rolston said. “‘I’m going to dig them out of the wood work.”

Hersey resident Colleen Tabaczynski made adult bibs for a relative and turned out other crafts in her spare time, but had never thought about selling them until Rolston approached her.

“This is the first time that I’ve ever put my crafts out there (for sale),” Tabaczynski said. “Joanne has given me the courage to do this. I’m so excited about it.”

At her space in the loft, Tabaczynski sells earrings she made out of bottle caps, adult bibs, seashell crafts, decorations made from corks and more.

“I live on the river so I dig up seashells and drill holes in them,” Tabaczynski said.

Unique items crafted from materials that may otherwise be overlooked or discarded are in no short supply in the loft. Crafters offer hats and purses made from plastic bags, pillows made from sample couch cover material, clocks and wall hangings whittled out of wood, furs crafted into rugs and throws, aprons, socks with catnip in them, walking sticks, knitted sweaters for wine bottles and gloves with no fingers and much more.

Most vendors are from Reed City, Hersey, Evart or Big Rapids.

“You’re not buying stuff from a store, you’re buying art people put some heart and soul into creating,” Tabaczynski said.

Along with craft displays in the loft, browsers can view a miniature model of the village of Hersey when it served as the county seat prior to 1927.

A selection of newspaper clippings are posted on the walls, detailing historical events in the village, such as a flood in the early 1900s and a fire that burned parts of the town, educating shoppers on the history of the rejuvenated community.

“Hersey has gone through kind of a death, and we’re hoping to give it some life again,” Rolston said.

The Hersey Roller Mills Store opened last May and soon the store will again serve ice cream for the summer.

Rolston anticipates an influx of customers who come to the store for a tasty treat and are ushered upstairs.

There still is space for eight more crafters to display their items in the loft. Anyone interested in renting a display at the Crafters of the Loft can call Rolston at (231) 796 8845.

The Crafters of the Loft is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.