When Covid-19 led to a hiatus in craft shows, many artisans found themselves bereft of their usual platforms to sell their creations. But for Blair native Tammi Japp, this presented an opportunity. “The Boutique was started in November 2020 (Covid). Crafters, like me had nowhere to sell their products,” she shares.
Undeterred by the pandemic, Japp sought to create a platform that would not only showcase her creations but also those of other local crafters. “My goal was to create a space for handmade artisans, like myself, to sell our creations,” she reveals.
In her boutique, one can stumble upon a plethora of unique items crafted with dedication and love. “The vendors are always amazing me with cool things that they make,” Japp says, noting that she finds joy in the happiness of customers when they find that perfect item.
The cooperative model at the Mainstreet Boutique serves as a boon for both vendors and customers alike. “The cooperative model benefits vendors by giving them an affordable space to sell their creations. It benefits customers because vendors are able to keep their prices reasonable and offer customized pieces for customers when requested,” Japp explains.
Like any business, the Mainstreet Boutique faces its own set of challenges. Rising costs pose a significant concern for Japp. “Challenges are rising rent costs (property taxes definitely are part of the reason for rising rent), utilities (gas bills this past winter), and fees from credit cards,” she elaborates.
Beyond the commercial aspect, Japp’s Boutique plays a transformative role in the lives of its vendors. Recalling one such instance, she shares, “One vendor we have has many health issues going on right now and for the past couple of years. Her ability to keep creating has helped her through all the physical and mental challenges as she is on her path to recovery.”
The process to become part of this unique platform is straightforward, as Japp explains, “I have a waitlist. I just ask that they send me pictures of what they make so when I have a space open up, I can see who makes a product that would be a good fit with everything else we currently have in the boutique.”
Supporting the local community remains a key tenet of the Mainstreet Boutique’s ethos. “I am supporting many local small business vendors by having this space for them to sell their work. We also support different community organizations with donations to help them raise money,” Japp points out.
The spirit of the boutique is best encapsulated in the words of a visitor from New York who was thrilled to stop in and was amazed at the variety and unique items, according to Japp.
Looking to the future, Japp has big plans for the boutique. “We’ve already grown twice… We are now in our forever space and very happy with its charm. We just plan on doing a few updates,” she reveals. As Blair’s craft community continues to flourish, Tammi Japp’s Mainstreet Boutique remains at its heart, ready to welcome every artisan with open doors.
Mainstreet Boutique is at 1651 Washington St, Blair, NE, United States, Nebraska