Hearing the name of a new shop, the Fiddle & Frog, that opened at 201 N. Main Street, Suite C, Stewartville, in June, my first thought was that it’s a bookstore for kids.
I was wrong. The shop, situated in about 600 square-feet, is a craft and gift shop — and not just an ordinary shop.
This was the inspiration, Gontea said: “We’d both been creating things for gifts, so loved to make things. Originally based in Rochester, we have been lovingly creating our fun products since 2013, so this was a great opportunity to work on something together and open this shop. We are both pretty much self-taught in our crafts. I have been crafting and then gifting crafts for years, and Amy discovered her passion for woodworking after a disappointing search for a medicine cabinet, so she decided to make her own, and then kept making! We’ve been selling at craft shows for a few years, but had toyed with the idea of a shop space.”
Again we see the use of space in an older downtown building, and when it comes to the help and furnishings, the sisters find family and some items found at garage and thrift sales along with places like Rochester Restore and just plain making your own.
“We received lots of support and encouragement from family and friends,” Gontea said. “But otherwise ALL aspects of the business have been done by us. Amy made most of our in-store displays herself. We had a few pieces from home that weren’t being used, and a few were donated from family.
“We have some seasonal merchandise, but lots of our regular items are available year-round, since we sell a huge variety of merchandise — from our own wooden toys, games, picture frames, kitchen accessories, paintings, pottery, rustic signs, soaps, candles and crocheted items, holiday items and leather goods with some items made by our 12 vendors currently,” Gontea said. “We’re always interested in new vendors!”
Using all of their square footage, she said, “We do have a small back room that is used for a work room and our new Open Crafting Studio. We do workshops that we call ‘Craft Bees’ and they’ve been offered for crafters of all ages. And our exciting new venture related to this that we’re going to try as well, an Open Crafting Studio that will be a space where, for a small fee, kids or adults can come and work on crafts, using supplies we provide, and we’ll clean up!”
With the whimsical name, Fiddle & Frog, you may wonder what they are trying to achieve. Where did the name come from?
“I suppose we’re trying to achieve an artsy, cozy, unique look within the shop,” Gontea said. “Our name came from my love of the violin and Amy’s love of frogs, plus it’s catchy. And every item we sell is handmade. We hear customers that come from Ames, Iowa, Milwaukee, Wis., and the Twin Cities tell us that more of this kind of shop are needed in Stewartville.”
The sisters’ mission is to create quality, educational, fun and loving products that will promote creative and hands-on play and everyday enjoyment.
“It was a far-off kind of dream for me, since I didn’t think we’d ever be able to do it (open the shop),” Gontea said. “We always have new ideas, so the final goal keeps changing. We hope to continue to grow and reach new people, thus inspiring them to buy handmade and create something themselves.”
Fiddle & Frog is open 2 p.m. to 6 p.m Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Holiday hours start Nov. 25: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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