CLARKFIELD - For the last couple of years, Kris Swanson of Clarkfield was considering not renewing her daycare provider license to start a craft business.
"But I was not quite brave enough," she said.
Swanson finally gathered up the courage to stop doing daycare this past September after 26 years and open 1st Floor Attic Consigned Creations, a craft consignment shop in downtown Clarkfield in November.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Kris Swanson recently opened 1st Floor Attic Consigned Creations in downtown Clarkfield. The store includes items from fleece blankets to jewelry to carved fish decoys.
"I was ready to get out of daycare," she said. "It's something I've thought about for a long time."
Swanson likes to craft, with her niche being fleece blankets. For the last decade, she's been going to a few area craft fairs a year.
"I think craft shows are a hoot," Swanson said, adding that she liked meeting people. "But I don't want to do 30 to 40 craft shows to make money."
Swanson said she came up with the idea to do a craft consignment shop as she saw an interest.
"I knew there were other people out there who would craft, but wouldn't want to do the shows," Swanson said. "I turned my playroom to a storefront again." Swanson had her daycare in the building that houses 1st Floor Attic. The building, which is about 110 years old, was once home to Lund's Jewelry as well as other businesses.
Swanson put ads in the local newspapers, looking for consigners and was able to find several vendors.
"It just kind of keeps snowballing," she said.
Swanson said doing consignment was easier for her than opening a shop as she didn't have to get inventory.
"You bring in the vendors and the vendors bring in the inventory," she said. "We do a 70-30 spilt with the vendors getting the 70."
Swanson said there is an annual fee for vendors to get into the consignment at 1st Floor Attic.
"It's kind of the deal where if a vendor wants to pull out after six months, they can," Swanson said.
Swanson has the shop set up in a way that, for example, she said, one vendor's fashion scarves would be next to another vendor's knit scarves. The same goes for the jewelry.
"Then they can help each other sell," Swanson said. "It seems to be working." Swanson has three different jewelry vendors and she said that maybe a customer will see a necklace and may want a ring to go with it.
There are many different types of crafts available at 1st Floor Attic, which includes concrete garden ornaments, hair accessories, photographs, carved fish decoys, Christmas decorations and dish towels.
"I have a wide area of vendors," she said. Swanson said some of her vendors are from as far away as Mankato and Wisconsin.
Swanson said that she can use anything from the "utterly useful to the wonderfully whimsical."
"You can't have a shop with just dishtowels," she said.
And she's always looking for more craft items for consignment.
"While it may look full, I have room for more," she said.