EXCELSIOR — Business owners Suzanne and Ryan Huggett rebelled against retail trends in their design of The Makers Studio.
When the couple decided to open a brick and mortar, they quickly turned down the prospect of online sales. The studio carries woodworking, ceramics from around the metro and fair trade textiles from Suzanne’s company, Digo Goods. To strip the items of the face-to-face sales interaction seemed counter to the process.
“We’re kind of putting value on human interaction and physically seeing things and the overall physical experience,” Suzanne said. “This retail space is pretty rebellious.”
The slower nature of a retail shopping experience matches the craft more, she said, and bringing revenue to local artists, as opposed to clicking on the Amazon shopping cart, is empowering.
“I think it’s really difficult sometimes to commit to spending the amount of money that it takes to buy handcrafted furniture without ever actually seeing it and touching it and understanding what goes into it,” Ryan said. “All of us would all agree: If only there was some way that we could really communicate to the customers the passion, and the dedication, and the years and decades of practice that it takes to create this stuff. And passing that on to our customers and clients has been incredibly rewarding.”
When Suzanne and Ryan floated the idea of opening a makers studio, only one component was concrete: It would have to be in Excelsior. A downtown storefront opened up a year and a half later, leaving them to make a split-decision on whether or not to open the studio.
“We talked and we said, you know, this is terrifying, but we can’t say no,” Ryan said. “This has to happen. It’s too perfect to turn down.”
Ryan’s parents, Bruce and Sharon, are Excelsior residents and business partners in The Makers Studio.
Since the shop opened, they’ve been delighted with the response from the friend whose ceramics sold out, the relationship they’ve grown with a glass-blowing company out of Duluth and the overall enthusiasm woodworkers have expressed to have the studio in the area.
Artisans may be excited about the studio, but Ryan and Suzanne believe customers are gladdened with the handmade quality of the items available.
“We had talked for a long time about changing the overall mindset of throw-away goods,” Suzanne said. “So even in our own home, Ryan was making furniture that had value and had meaning and was crafted — valuing items that are rooted in a history of making.”
The 20 artisans whose works are available are from Shorewood, Wayzata, Rosemount, River Falls, Duluth and Minneapolis.
The store is at 400 Second St. in Excelsior. Its hours are Tuesdays-Thursdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. The Makers Studio is closed Mondays. The website is themakersstudio-mn.com.