Showcasing local crafts

  • Mike and Fran Bates stand inside their new store, Bates Crafters Gallery, at 90 New Athol Road in Orange. Their grand opening is Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CARSON McGRATH

Staff Writer
Published: 8/2/2018 5:56:51 PM

ORANGE — Mike and Fran Bates of New Salem always dreamed of opening their own store of homemade crafts and refurbished antiques — and now that dream has become a reality.

The couple’s grand opening for their new business, Bates Crafters Gallery at 90 New Athol Road, a store packed with handmade and repurposed locally crafted products in Orange, is set for Saturday.

Tucked away throughout the small space are various handmade items such as soaps, dog bandanas, hair bows, decorated horseshoes, wreaths and more. Fran Bates said she has made her own crafts for as long as she can remember, and enjoys refurbishing items into something unique. Once she heard the space on New Athol Road was vacant, she started to envision her own crafts on display for sale, instead of just hanging them in her home.

Along with her own homemade items, she reached out to other local crafters to see if they were interested in filling the space with their products. The couple said they were overwhelmed by the response they received, so much so that they converted one of the gallery’s small rooms to hold more local crafts and antique furniture.

“We have items you are not going to find anywhere else around here,” said Fran Bates. “We are really finding some original crafters.”

She said the crafters have been excited leading up to the opening.

“All of these crafters came in, and they love this idea to have an actual place to sell their stuff — it gives them a nice place to exhibit their work,” said Mike Bates.

Though he doesn’t have any pieces to sell in the gallery, Mike said he’s been working hard to customize various displays to showcase each crafter’s work. Walking into the space, an old light-blue antique stove catches the eye, along with a refurbished and customized baby crib with tea cups hanging from the metal wire on top. These are just two examples of displays Mike Bates has been working on to create a unique feel to the gallery. Hidden in a corner, an old computer desk is transformed into a sink with various soaps and items for display, as well.

“It is a different type of store. It isn’t just a cookie-cutter retail space,” said Mike Bates.

Though the couple has only been planning the store for about a month, they said interacting with the local community and bringing in new vendors has been a great experience.

“We wanted to be established and be here for Christmas, and hopefully, just be here going forward,” said Fran Bates.

Come September, the couple hopes to teach classes, such as cake decorating, held by their vendors and community members. For those who visit the store and don’t find an item they like, Fran Bates said the majority of crafters can customize pieces for them.

“The creativity in everybody that comes in is just awesome,” said Mike Bates. “It has been fun interacting with people but it also has been a lot of work.”

As part of Saturday’s grand opening, Fran said various raffles will be held throughout the day, and visitors can enjoy free coffee.


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