Just off South Campus Avenue and across from Miami University’s Slant Walk, students have a new option to buy all their handcrafted goods — and it’s run by other students.
On Sept. 4, Julian Bradley, a sophomore finance major, and Genevieve Gerenz, a senior chemistry major, opened The College Artisans Shop. The store was initially opened out of Bradley and Gerenz’s need for a place to sell their artwork. Bradley creates rings out of spoons, while Gerenz creates jewelry using high quality materials.
The shop currently sells a combination of Bradley and Gerenz’s work, as well as artwork from students. Aside from a few clothes that are thrifted, all of the products are made entirely by students. To get the shop ready to open, the duo repainted all of the walls and redid all of the flooring with only the help of Gerenz’s brother.
The initial start-up cost, including renovations, furniture and zoning, was estimated to be around $15,000 to $20,000, all of which was made from the sales of their own artwork at Findlay Market in Cincinnati.
The shop operates with a consignment model where the shop receives a 33% commission for the artwork that is sold. Bradley said the artists are then paid at the end of the month.
“We intentionally wanted to be on the lower end and the shops that are more familiar to a co-op type shop take smaller percentages, but then they also require people selling at their store to work at the store, or annual fees, which is another kind of a barrier,” Bradley said. “So we tried to be as much in the middle ground as possible and as low risk as possible for students.”
The shop's consignment model has enabled other students to sell their artwork and expand their brand to the local population of Oxford. Previous opportunities afforded to students were usually limited to one-day events where artists would have to prepare their entire stock for the day. The shop has allowed for a lot more flexibility for students selling their work.
Josie Wenzell, a senior marketing major and owner of Well Being Apparel, sells some of her handmade products in the shop. She said the shop’s low barriers to entry were a very attractive feature compared to the other shops she has worked with in the past.
“I think The College Artisans Shop is really cool,” Wenzell said. “It's really inclusive and overall a really safe space.”
Luca Mertens, a junior studio arts major, sells their prints in the shop. Much like Wenzell, the shop has given Mertens a consistent place to sell her artwork. The College Artisans Shop has given her an idea of what it's like to work in an art shop and has inspired her to one day open a print studio of her own.
“It is a positive boost of motivation,” Mertens said. “Other people will see it and other people may be interested in picking it up. That's somewhat of a big factor.”
The shop plans on hosting events every Thursday night that coincide with their artist-of-the-week display. The events will range from crocheting nights to making your own rings.
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“We want to give students more things to do in the Uptown area besides drink,” Gerenz said.
Despite being a senior, Gerenz plans on staying in Oxford after graduation to continue co-running the shop while working remotely, while Bradley plans on finishing his finance degree while continuing to co-run the shop.
“I'm hopeful it will continue to have a positive impact on the Oxford community and the students here,” Bradley said, “tying them together a bit more and hopefully giving people some more interest in the art that their peers have to offer.”