When she lost her job three years ago 49-year-old Sharyl Curtis of Grayslake knew it was time for a change.
She had always loved art, and she had always wanted to have her own shop. She knew, however, that the current economy was in no way ideal for starting one.
Determined, though, Curtis embarked on her mission of finding unique, hand-made art by local and national artists.
“I want to keep it fresh, different, one-of-a-kind and unique,” said Curtis of her items ranging from vintage jewelry to original contemporary paintings, photographs, metal art, cards, candles, soaps and even furniture.
Then, she began the next step – figuring out what people were looking for, what they would buy and for what price. To gather feedback and find her customer base Curtis has hosted ‘tastings’ in her own home, and now in Suite 1C at Station Square, the space she will eventually call Gingi’s – Unique Artistic Finds.
“I want to be smart and safe about how I approach this business,” said Curtis of the ‘tastings’. “I’ve been doing these small test groups, just getting a feel of what I can expect.”
Shoppers can peruse the products, purchase what’s available and leave their comments for what they would like to see or buy in the future. Curtis uses the feedback to tweak her product lines and prices.
“I think this will help build momentum for this shop and we’ll need all the momentum we can get,” she said.
Can a Small Business Open and Succeed in This Economy?
Before she began this endeavor Curtis knew the odds would be stacked against her.
As a former director of business development, she was prepared for the struggles in opening a gift shop, especially in an area that has seen its share of stores come and go, The Shops at Station Square in Prairie Crossing
She and husband Rick have invested their savings into making her dream a reality. She is also expecting the economy to turn around, banking on the downward spiral of corporate America to propel people to start shopping locally.
“I think people are tired of what is going on,” she said. “I really do think this is the time for small businesses to start thriving. Everyone wants the United States to be successful and a big part of that are the small businesses.”
That’s one of the reasons Curtis has committed to sell only items made in the US.
Nature photographer Kris Schroeder of Grayslake is one of the artists who will show her work at Gingi’s.
Schroeder had opened her own art gallery in Grayslake five years ago. Not much later the recession was underway and Schroeder’s business partner who was serving in the Navy Reserves was shipped to Iraq. Schroeder closed the Lake County Fine Arts Center after a year.
She is now looking forward to selling her work locally and feels there is a need and a market for a store like Gingi’s.
“I think as an artist once you learn to make your own things you don’t want to buy mass produced items anymore,” Schroeder said. “People are looking for a shop like this where they can find one-of-a-kind and unique items.”
The next ‘Taste of Gingi’s’ is set for this weekend, Friday, December 9 from 5 – 9 p.m. and Saturday, December 10 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Gingi’s is located in The Shops of Station Square, 970 Harris Road, Suite 1C in Grayslake.
Curtis hopes to continually give back to the community by working with various groups and organizations on fundraisers.
For more information on Gingi’s check them out on facebook.