When COVID-19 shut down warm weather art and craft shows throughout Michigan, Farmington Hills resident and Moose Creek Metals owner Jim LaLonde found himself in a tough spot.
“I had no way to make an income except online,” said LaLonde, who creates custom metal art works. “I was not prepared to do that.”
While he and his wife, Sally, have long had the dream of opening space for artists, something always got in the way. That is, until this summer.
In May of this year, Lora Miller, owner of Fun with Fiber in Farmington Hills, was going through her own challenges. After a long illness, her husband, David, passed away. Thirty-some years ago, he opened Miller’s Art Supply in the Kendallwood Shopping Center at 12 Mile and Farmington Roads.
Ten years ago, Lora moved Fun with Fiber into a space inside David’s store. When he passed, she decided to close out the art supply end and rent out the space, looking for a tenant through word of mouth. One of her customers who knew the LaLondes made the connection that led to the September 1 opening of MI Artisan Market.
“Most (of the vendors) we met personally at events like the (Farmington) Farmers Market and local shows,” LaLonde said. “We also made some cold calls.”
Vendors are juried and must create original items in Michigan. They come from as far away as Traverse City and Ypsilanti, although many are more local. Items on display include woodwork, jewelry, pottery, soaps, woven and knitted items, decorative boxes, wall hangings, books from local authors, and much more.
West Bloomfield resident Nancy Rosenthal’s creations run the gamut from pearl necklaces and statement bracelets to holiday-themed fairy gardens. Her Finesse 2 Funky products fill a small MI Artisan Market table.
Rosenthal said she just happened upon the shop in mid-September. She lives with multiple sclerosis and has had back surgery, so appreciates the more permanent space.
“It’s been really fun,” Rosenthal said. “It’s great to not have to do the shows. I live close by, so I can come in and change things out.”
She also loves the store’s atmosphere and variety of vendors participating. “This is like coming to the mall, but on a smaller scale.”
Jim LaLonde calls MI Artisan Market “a dream come true”.
“I’m getting older, and doing the shows has become more difficult,” he said, adding the shop also gives him a greater sense of independence. “I know how (vendors) want to be treated. We’re all in this together.”
The coming months will bring a Holiday Pottery Market December 5 and 6, and possibly a book signing event with MI Artisan Market authors.
MI Artisan Market is located inside Fun With Fiber at 33304 W. 12 Mile Rd. Learn more at facebook.com/MIArtisanMarket. Learn more about Fun With Fiber, which also offers custom framing, at funwithfiber.com.
Correction: The dates of the Pottery Market were incorrectly listed in the original version of this post.