Alta. store provides a home for local crafters

More than 126 vendors sell their products in this village business; it is also a destination for those looking for local gifts

KITSCOTY, Alta. — Prairie crafters have found a location to sell and showcase their homegrown, home-raised and home-made products.

Angie McLean sells products for more than 126 vendors in her Farmstead Market and More store in Kitscoty. Fifty more vendors are on a waiting list and another 110 emails from potential vendors wait in her inbox.

For the residents of Kitscoty and area, the store has become a destination for local gifts.

“Everyone was super excited. There is nothing here in town.”

Most people jump in the car and drive 15 minutes to the border city of Lloydminster to shop. Since opening her store Dec. 1, the traffic is now coming from Lloydminster to Kitscoty for homemade gifts.

“I am trying to make something unique to bring in travellers,” she said.

Residents out for a walk stop in for a visit, browse, or to buy something. Before Christmas, visitors were lined outside the door waiting to shop in the store focused on local, hand-made goods.

“I was swamped,” she said.

With Covid-19 rules, she was allowed eight people in the building and later it dropped to five. Waiting outside didn’t deter people from wanting to buy.

The store provides a wide variety of products. | Mary MacArthur photo

Before opening, McLean sent out feelers to vendors to see if they were interested in supplying goods to her shop. She was soon overwhelmed by vendors who wanted to sell their products and by shoppers wanting local gifts and produce.

All of the products are made in Canada, but most are made in Saskatchewan or Alberta, many from within an hour of Kitscoty.

In the food section is cheese from Vermilion, sausage from Mundare, brown and white eggs from Kitscoty, lettuce from Lloydminster, fudge from Calgary and Moose Jaw, pickles from Calgary, honey from Paradise Valley and Kitscoty, mustard from Manitoba, sauces from Lloydminster, Bow Valley and Saskatoon, caramels from Spruce Grove, peanut butter from Calgary, coffee from Saskatoon and tea from Calgary.

She also has greeting cards from Calgary and Saskatoon, wheat bags from Marwayne, signs from Bonnyville, Cold Lake and Kitscoty.

In the back area are candles from Edmonton, Sandy Beach, Camrose and Paradise Valley and soap from Camrose, Pierceland, Viking and Edmonton. The bath bombs come from Camrose and Viking. T-shirts are from Kitscoty, sweatshirts from Langford, face masks from Kitscoty and earrings from Macklin, Canmore, Edmonton and Blackfalds. The list of products is like a map of the Prairies.

“We want to keep a good variety. We don’t want 20 bath products. Now bath products and jewellery are our biggest applications.”

As McLean has time, she goes through her email to select more vendors who will add a greater variety to her store.

Eventually, McLean wants to have a write up about each vendor beside their gifts and products to help tell each vendor’s story.

Angie McLean’s daughter, Brianna, works the till. | Mary MacArthur photo

McLean took possession of the store on Halloween and opened for business the first of December to catch the Christmas market. Since then she has knocked out more walls and estimates her store occupies about 2,500 sq. feet of the 4,000 sq. foot building.

Another back room is on the list for renovations to add more space. It may become an extension of the store, a bi-weekly market for the vendors who sell Tupperware and other home-based businesses that can’t market in the store, or possibly even a birthday party room.

“I have lots of ideas.”

Two years earlier, McLean bought a vacant lot in town to possibly build her own store, but jumped at the chance to buy the current building. Financing a business during COVID-19 is not an idea the banks are keen on, she said. Most of the renovation and operating loan came from her own bank account.

McLean and her husband own a grain and cattle farm outside Kitscoty. With the children, 14 and 15, getting older, she wanted a project.

“I was looking for something to do.”

McLean plans to have an official grand opening in March.

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