IN Store at Ellettsville's Richland Plaza offers locally made products - The Herald-Times

Summary

Kayla Miller's business aspirations have always been in the realm of creativity and craftiness.

She had an Etsy shop a few years back, but it grew so large she didn't have the time or space in her house to keep up. She then started an online service teaching people how to craft and ran into the same problem. That led her to finding a storefront.

Kayla Miller's business aspirations have always been in the realm of creativity and craftiness.

She had an Etsy shop a few years back, but it grew so large she didn't have the time or space in her house to keep up. She then started an online service teaching people how to craft and ran into the same problem. That led her to finding a storefront.

A new gift shop filled with items from local sellers offers Ellettsville a different shopping experience. It fills a retail gap as one of the new additions to Bloomington's developing sister city.

"We just wanted it to bring in something different," Miller said. "There's not really anything like this."

Opened June 1, the IN Store features candles, plants, soaps and bubble quilts from local crafters and small businesses. With the number of crafty people contributing to the storefront, new items are rotating onto store shelves almost daily.

The store is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11.a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

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Located at 4653 W. Richland Plaza Drive in the strip mall along Ind. 46, the store is recognizable by its dark, wooden front door — similar to the front door of a home. This feature is fitting since Miller wants her customers to feel relaxed and comfortable within her store.

"You're almost guaranteed to find something just unique for someone," she said. "It truly would feel like a gift you're giving someone from the heart."

At the store, people are shopping local and buying from a selection of products that are not mass produced, Miller said. The sellers' passion can be seen in the products they create, she said.

Many items, like tumblers and T-shirts, can be personalized. People can pick out what they want and have it customized. However, larger orders take time.

"We just do a little bit of everything," Miller said, "There's an idea, then we just go to work with our creativity and make it happen."

Twenty people currently contribute to the store's inventory, and Miller said that number is growing. The store creates a supportive environment, Miller said, as sellers share customers, give feedback and inspire each other.

"People are able to make income off of what they make," she said. "They can do more of what they love instead of just being tied to like a corporate job."

A chance to reach new customers

One of those people is Ashlynn Jayne Carmichael.

The stay-at-home mom started her candle and wax business, Ash's Aromas by Hand, about a year and half ago after wanting to foster her creativity while at home. She started by selling her products off her porch, which took off when she started a Facebook group.

"They're high quality products that I could put my personality into and then make an income for my family," Carmichael said. "I just let my creativity go."

She has an extensive list of fragrances, so when someone reaches out to make an order, she tries to get to know them on a personal level. That way, she can put together a list catered to the person.

With the new store, Carmichael is able to lay out all of her products in one place. Especially since her business relies on people smelling her candles, soaps and wax melts, the store provides a new opportunity and customer base.

"Once people realize that it's there, and they go in and see all the products that are offered, especially around holidays, I think that it's just going to be great," she said.

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Looking to the future, Miller said she hopes to keep adding variety to the store and listen to the community for items they want to purchase.

Miller also has an online shop, Apple Blossom Blanks, where she sells some wholesale goods. Her storefront also is available for other sellers to ship their goods. Since her store aims to be resourceful and environmentally friendly, Miller collects boxes and packing paper from other local businesses to fill orders.

She wants to do more community events. Last Christmas season, she said they brought in a Grinch for families to take pictures with — like a Santa at the mall. So many people showed up they had to line up down the strip mall's sidewalk.

"It was very overwhelming," she said. "But, it made me realize how much Ellettsville needs something like that for families."

Cate Charron is an intern at The Herald-Times. You can reach her over email at ccharron@heraldt.com or on Twitter at @CateCharron.

IN Store at Ellettsville's Richland Plaza offers locally made products - The Herald-Times
Photo Credit: The Herald-Times

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