By Mary Whitfill
The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Kudos to Gloria Watanabe and Janet Nelson who just celebrated one yearin business. When they opened the doors to their art shop only four artisans had signed on and filling the shelves wasn’t easy. Now, 15 different artists pay Nelson and Watanabe to showcase their goods in the store.
The road to business ownership was full of bumps and turns, but art lovers Gloria Watanabe and Janet Nelson are celebrating one year of living their dream.
“We can’t believe this is ours,” Nelson said of their quaint art shop on Broad Street. “How often do we say that?”
“Everyday,” Watanabe replied.
Jackson Square Artisans, a small shop that sells the homemade goods of local crafters, is celebrating its one-year anniversary.
When the doors first opened at 750 Broad Street, only four artisans had signed on and filling the shelves wasn’t easy. Now, 15 different artists pay Nelson and Watanabe to showcase their goods in the store.
“We hear a lot that people want something unique and different,” Watanabe said. “The idea that it’s handmade appeals to people, and a lot of people do like to do their shopping in their own town.”
Tara and Jesse Duane, a couple who does custom woodworking in their spare time, have been on board since day one. Competing with online retailers can be hard for brick-and-motor store, but Tara said she prefers selling at Jackson Square Artisans than on websites like Etsy.
“If you don’t find a unique item that no one else is making, you won’t get seen,” she said of the online marketplace. “It’s almost impossible to succeed. Here, you can talk to people and they can hold your item in their hand to see if it’s what they really want.
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Watanabe, 65, and Nelson, 76, first met years ago at Weymouth Farmer’s Market. Artisans themselves, Nelson was selling her crochet necklaces and Watanabe her hand-dyed Kimonos. Together they joined other artisan groups and popped in and out of spaces around the South Shore before taking the leap to start their own store.
“Luckily we just found each other at the right time and in the right circumstances,” Watanabe said.
“There is a time and a place for everything,” Nelson added. “Good things come to those who wait. I’m a firm believer in that.”
Nelson is a lifelong Weymouth resident, and Watanabe has lived in the town for over 30 years, so the location was a no-brainer. When the carriage house on Broad Street became available, they thought it was perfect… almost.
“We worked our butts off for five weeks,” Watanabe said of the renovations needed before the store could open.
“All it took was a little vision,” Nelson added.
The pair is like long-lost sisters, full of giggles and always finishing each other’s sentences. It’s a dynamic they cherish and said it’s important that the artisans they work with fit in to the general vibe of the group.
“We do have a lot of people who come in and want to know, and you can always tell which ones are looking for a serious opportunity,” Nelson said. “We are an accepting group and want people to feel that.”
The 15 people they’ve brought in have filled the store with hand-stitched pillows, watercolor paintings, hand-made cutting boards, jewelry, soaps and more. In exchange for space in the store, all the artisans must work there one day a month and pay an average of $150 per month in rent.
Next on their to-do list, Nelson and Watanabe hope to start a Jackson Square business association for local owners to come together and boost the area’s economy.
“Jackson Square is kind of coming back in a way,” Watanabe said. “We have a lot of cars going by and there is also a lot of young people moving into the area, but we need some kind of events that will bring people to the square.”