Have you been to Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutique? This local boutique opened in 2014 at Sunnyside Mall in Bedford, and recently expanded to a second location in the Halifax Hydrostone. Between their two shops and online retail platform, Made in the Maritimes directly supports more than 132 Maritime artisans.
Read on to learn more about this great local business that’s helping locals buy local. We’re proud to partner with them for the 5th Annual Local Wishlist!
Joel Kelly and Mark Smith, the owners of Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutiques, opened their first store in Bedford in April 2014, but the concept for an all-local artisan shop came years earlier, while Joel was attending a pottery class at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
His instructor, the talented local pottery and ceramics artist Rachel de Condé, mentioned a lack of local shops focused on local artisans. The conversation seeded an idea for a local, contemporary boutique, filled with products that were all Maritime made.
Joel had a well-established career in marketing, and Mark was completing his Master of Business Administration degree. They both supported local farmers and artisans, shopping at the farmers market, and, in Joel’s case, even making some of his own pottery. Their combined skills and passion were the perfect match to make a Maritime focused store.
It took a few years of planning, with Rachel helping out along the way by giving an artisan perspective, helping with the business plan, and providing inspiration. As Joel says, “She knows the industry inside and out”.
Months before opening, Made in the Maritimes was generating a tremendous following. Thousands of people joined their Facebook page before opening day, and artisans from across the Maritime provinces reached out to the duo to share their work.
Joel hand-selected every piece for the opening, reviewing more than 500 artisan submissions, searching Farmers’ Markets, and even taking road trips just to preview one or two items. On April 30, 2014, Made in the Maritimes opened its doors.
A second location was not in the short term plans.
When the idea of a Halifax location was first proposed to them, they were still in the rush of their first year. They turned it down. But when the opportunity re-presented itself a month later, they took the leap.
By that time, the original store was thriving.
The former tenant of their Hydrostone location was Bogside Gallery. Barbara, the owner of Bogside, had been a fixture in the community for years, and had built a strong following and a welcoming space where locals could discover and connect with local artisans.
“Barbara had built such a fantastic name and customer base for Bogside for close to 20 years. She wanted to see someone similar in the space, providing high-quality local products, and she gave us a little push to get in here,” Joel said.
What Makes Them Unique:
“We’re always pushing to source different products and maintain a unique customer experience by bringing in products not found anywhere else in the city,” Joel says.
The constant change in contents of their two boutiques is a team effort. Joel, Mark, and the staff at Made in the Maritimes use their expertise and the direct feedback from customers to curate the shops. They’re also starting to offer more and more Made in the Maritimes brand items and products made exclusively for the store.
For example, Maru Pottery has created a custom line of pottery for Made in the Maritimes that’s been hand carved to depict the Halifax skyline.
They’ve also had huge demand for their Made in the Maritimes soap, an exclusive scent and design made for the shop by Halifax-based business, Bad Mouth Soap. The blueberry and rum soaps depict a stunning seascape, so they’re just as pretty to look at as to use. And they’ve been flying off the shelves!
“We get in 200 and they’re gone in three weeks. It’s given the maker a bit of a boost, as well. When you hear things like that it’s nice. It makes it all worthwhile,” Joel says.
Why Buy Local?
Joel thinks buying local is a key factor in building a strong local economy, one that is especially important on the East Coast.
“We see there is a people drain where there are people moving out west all the time. We want to keep jobs here and keep people employed here,” Joel says.
And he’s committed to make it easier for people to discover what is available locally. As Joel says, it’s about making that little change.
“Last Christmas, we had 100s of people in to do all of their shopping and some just for stocking stuffers. This support, no matter the size, has a big impact as the money goes directly back into the community.”
He believes it should be easy to buy local, and through the shop they are making it easier for customers and organizations to connect with the perfect local gift. They recently had a request for a corporate order – 50 Wildflowers of Nova Scotia cards (made by talented local print artisan, Sarah Duggan).
“Within the space of an hour we’d filled an order for 50 of her cards and they were delivered to (the client) that day. Done, paid for, onto the next thing!”
What To Look For During the Holidays!
This time of year, Made in the Maritimes is bursting with beautiful gift ideas. Here are a few items to look for on your next trip:
The Local Wishlist is made possible by our Presenting Partner:
And a fantastic group of local partners:
And Our Friends of the Wishlist: