Story last updated at 7/10/2013 - 2:22 pm
It's no secret the arts culture in Southeast Alaska is strong. Until recently, the ability to find it all in one place in Prince of Wales was difficult - until Strictly Local Selections opened its doors this spring.
Artist Cindy Wortman-Zeil was encouraged to open the shop by friend and fellow artist Stephanie Jurries. They opened the shop in March in the courthouse building in Craig.
It offers a wide array of local art - Wortman-Zeil's special hand-painted aurora Christmas ornaments, to spices, jewelry, paintings, photographs, hand-crafted tea kettles and more.
"Cindy has been making these hand painted beautiful glass ornaments for years," Jurries said. "She started doing wholesale with those quite a few years ago. To the point where she actually has people making them with her."
Wortman-Zeil was doing that out of a small workshop space, and wanted more room. Wortman-Zeil was wishing someone would open a local artist store in town, and Jurries encouraged her to be the one to do it.
There were three key components into building the business - provide a place for local artists to sell their art, provide a place for artists to share and buy local art, and for people to see that art is valuable in Prince of Wales. Jurries said they hope it serves as a place for people to share and foster art in the community.
"So far, it's just amazing what different kinds of art people have been bringing in. it's going really good so far," Jurries said. "It's really awesome to be able to make and sell things. We want other people to have this outlet as well. It's been really neat seeing people come to the realization that what they do is valuable."
There are about 10 main artists that work or stock the shop, there are between 30-40 artists total with items in the store.
Jurries likes the circular set up of the store, because it's like a vortex that sucks people in - ideal for viewing.
"The big thing is, it's called Strictly Local Selections because we're trying to keep it locally made only," Juries said. "We have just a couple other things from elsewhere in Alaska. We're not going to sell anything that's not made in Alaska. We're keeping it local. We're not going to sell just tourism junk, it's about the art."
One of the biggest challenges of the business is just getting people from POW into the store to see what it's about. Jurries said people have been coming in more and more.
"People who have been in have just been amazed," she said. "The word on the street is going around and it's good."
Her favorite part of the store is that it serves as inspiration for a lot of people.
"It's fun to hang out there," she said. "One of us will be working on making stuff in the back room. It's just a positive atmosphere. People are putting a level of creativity in their products and you can feel it. It's really fun to see people enjoying our work, just to be in there."
Jurries said the store is not a co-op, but they are open to all kinds of people bringing things in.
"It's not like it's a closed thing," she said. "We want people to know that we're here if they have things they want to sell. We want to be inclusive. We want to foster creativity in the community and an appreciation for it as well."
Strictly Local Selections, part gallery, part gift store. Located in Craig.
Visit their Facebook page or call (907) 401-0770 for more information.
Making Local Work is a biweekly feature made possible by Alaska Pacific Bank. To feature your Southeast Alaskan business, email firstname.lastname@example.org.