Running with scissors is rarely a good idea – unless it gets you a hip downtown craft-goods store, that is. Ask Ellen Alleman, founding member and manager of Springfield’s own Running With Scissors Creative Collective (RWSCC); after all, it was only a couple of years ago that she and some fellow scissor-happy friends were “just making stuff” – a few greeting cards here, some letter magnets there, and Cuddle Buddies – stuffed dolls made by Alleman’s mom of brightly-colored yarn – to boot, along with a few hair accessories. Sometime in 2010, Alleman and friends convinced a buddy managing the Springfield Farmer’s Market to let them go in on a booth together and sell their wares; by the end of the year, “just the three of us” had turned into six people hawking their crafts with the company, and after another year of marketplaces and craft shows, their small group grew to a dozen.
Today, they’ve scaled up from a primary stock of greeting cards and jewelry, to selling a whole slew of other charming, offbeat pieces in a shop of their very own, housed inside of Springfield’s Heritage Center (right across the hall from the fair trade coffee shop Un Mundo). Running With Scissors sells handmade goods from about thirty different local artists, including Alleman herself and Annette Eshelman, who runs Caterpillar Dreams Studio and also works inside the Running With Scissors shop. Eshelman’s fine artworks, which include one-of-a-kind portraits and journals comprised of colorful threads, sumptuous hand-dyed silk scarves and other pieces, are some of the store’s most popular come holiday season. (Eshelman and Alleman‘s mother have partnered up to work toward the opening of “a gallery with larger pieces of art, classes and possibly even studio space for rent eventually,“ says Alleman.)
Jewelry is always a big seller at the shop. Given a glance at the selection, it’s no surprise; from fabric-covered button earrings to bracelets made of silverware (yep, you read it right – spoons, knives and forks turned around your wrist and too fab to eat with), there seems to be something for any novelty-jewelry fiend worth their frills. And yes, the cuddle-worthy Cuddle Buddies are still there. Add to that a gaggle of other goods, including body care items – the Stinkybomb Soap line bears grenade-shaped bars of soap for the most brutal (and adorable!) germ-killing ever – plus a host of cozy pieces from slippers to winter scarves, for a cute collection of awesomely eccentric accessories.
At the outset, Alleman says, the setup at this location was only intended as a “flash” store. “These past two summers, as we loaded and unloaded our cars each weekend at shows and markets, we never imagined having a physical store downtown for the holidays…when we did open the flash store Nov. 1, we honestly planned on packing everything up again theweek after Christmas.” Yet, here they are, set to stay at least through September; there’s been some murmuring behind the scenes about the possibility of a longer stay, but as nothing is set in stone they continue to test the waters and figure out the year-round sustainability of the shop in Springfield. “So we’re learning to be a little more open minded and to dream a little bigger, too!“
Could bigger dreams lead to bigger bank accounts? For Alleman, fattening up the pockets of her fellow artists is a reward in itself. “Writing checks to the artists is so cool,” she gushes. “Just knowing we were able to sell all of that work for them…as an artist, it’s cool to see other artists doing well, especially people who have been in the market for a while.”
She also likes seeing customers’ reactions to the shop; they’re often glad to see such unique offerings being sold in Springfield, by Springfield-area artists. “You can’t get [these items] at the mall or Target.”
Still, it’s not always easy staying so cutting-edge in Springfield; let‘s face it, other cities tend to see trends come and go more quickly than we do here (or in any number of other smallish Midwestern cities, for that matter). “It’s hard to be ahead of the curve, when a trend hasn’t passed in Springfield [but has passed in other areas],” says Alleman.
Trying to keep enough of each product in stock can also put the store in a sticky spot, she says. “Always having enough product, getting it coordinated in time…can be difficult.” So if you’re an artist seeking to sell your wares with RWSCC, do Alleman and company a favor and please refrain from hauling in your goods unannounced; instead, fill out the nifty little submission form that’s been set up on the store’s website, http://www.runningwithscissorscreativecollective.com (speaking of which, Alleman says they’ll soon be maintaining a blog on the site, as well as boosting their social media presence overall) and someone from the store will be happy to help you to some information. If the company finds your merch to be a match for the store, who knows – you might be running with scissors, all the way to the bank.
See more pics below!