Recollections from The Inn

Meet the Merchant: Recollections from The Inn of Mentor, MN

“I have guests drive up to 90 miles to visit my shop several times a year because they know that every gift they buy is unique.”

What inspired you to start your business?
Nancy Thomasson: I open my first shop, Berry Hollow, in Silver Spring, MD, in 1976. I was always passionate about the work of the American Artist. I felt the artist was not the best ones to sell their own work. I loved their work and knew I could sell it. I attended the very first Buyers Market of Craft in Baltimore. I thought it was just the competition the American Craft Council needed. I opened my second shop, Country Heritage, in Washington VA five years later. In 1992 my husband and I bought an historic hotel in MN and restored it over the next three years. We opened The Inn at Maple Crossing in 1995. Recollections from The Inn is the Inn’s gift shop. Ninety percent of what I sell is the work of the American Artist, most of whom I met at the Buyers Market of American Craft.

What’s the first thing someone would notice walking into your store?
Nancy ThomassonA unique collection of gifts!

Describe your merchandise mix:
Nancy Thomasson: My shop offers a unique collection of fine gifts and rare finds, representing the work of over 100 professional artisans from all over the United States. I carry pottery, jewelry, kaleidoscopes, textiles, wood, glass, original art, photography, women’s accessories, gifts for men, folk toys for children, all displayed “cottage style” so the customer can envision how things could look in their own home.

Do you hold annual events and exhibitions?
Nancy ThomassonMost of the events are Inn focused. The shop benefits from all of them.

Are you engaging your customers in a conversation about the Shop Local/ American Made movement?
Nancy ThomassonI always talk shop American Made. We live on a lake that is busy is the summer but much slower the rest of the year. I have guests drive up to 90 miles to visit my shop several times a year because they know that every gift they buy is unique. They have lunch at the Inn and buy all the gifts they need for the next few months. I have people who do their Christmas shopping before they close their cottages for the season. They love the uniqueness of the American made gift.

How do most of your customers find you?
Nancy Thomasson: Most customers are visitors of The Inn. We advertise on public radio, and other traditional venues. Word of mouth is big for us and so is the repeat business.

What makes your store stand out from other retailers in your area?
Nancy Thomasson: The unique collection. American Artists from all over the nation, not just local.

What would you say is your key to longevity?
Nancy Thomasson: I love what I do.

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