If you are looking for unique items to buy as a gift or for yourself, the newest shop on Third Street in Marshall is a must-see.
Those fancy letters on the Knights of Columbus building spell Italy Ava, where one can find creative handmade items from a variety of artists.
"I have three boys and Italy Ava is the girl I never had," said store owner and designer Laura Guza-Antony of Marshall about the store's name.
Photo by Karin Elton
Jessica Stolen of Hanley Falls adjusts a soap
dispenser she crafted from a Mason jar on a shelf at Italy Ava The Handmade Marketplace, a new boutique in Marshall. Stolen is one of 13 vendors who sell their wares at the shop.
Guza-Antony started her business from her home where she created items such as scarves, rings fashioned with antique and glass buttons, and handbands. She later displayed her pieces at Blue/Green where she was a hit.
"The ladies went crazy for my barrettes and wreaths," Guza-Antony said. "They really took off."
Guza-Antony began looking around for shop space of her own to rent. Main Street was out of her price range but the location and cost at the K of C building was just right. In addition, there is Blue/Green nearby, the Arts Center and Prairie Yoga across the street and Shiatsu Massage in the building so her store fits right in, she said.
"And there's the Farmers Market on Thursdays," Guza-Antony said.
It wasn't hard to attract vendors to her shop, she said.
"I put it out on my website (www.italyava.com ) and got 13 people right away," she said.
Among the vendors are Vanessa Torke who offers homemade beauty products for sale. The Nessa's Naturals line includes lip balms, dry oil body mists and mineral makeup.
Jessica Stolen of Hanley Falls offers Vintage Inspired Designs & Gifts. She takes items that are no longer valued and makes a new use for them such as colored pint jars and makes them into soap dispensers or old silverware that is now garden markers.
"Luckily we're in an area where we have a lot of estate sales," she said.
Stolen said by reworking an item, she is keeping it out of a landfill. As she re-fashions an antique, she thinks about what it used to be used for.
"Silverware used to be someone's prize possession, but somewhere along the line it was discarded," she said.
Hard-cased suitcases are no longer used, so Stolen takes those, adds a pillow and makes pet beds out of them. She got the idea from her cat who has been known to crawl into a suitcase and take a nap.
She also takes old brass chandeliers, tests them, paints them and puts new glass globes in them to update their look.
These are just some of the creative finds shoppers can see at Italy Ava - all for affordable prices. Guza-Antony said she tries to keep the prices in the store "budget friendly so that when (shoppers) falls in love with a piece, they can afford it."
Guza-Antony said the store is successful.
"People are going crazy over everything," she said. "I have to take Sunday through Tuesday off so I can replenish the shelves."
Italy Ava hours are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.