Raleigh, N.C. — Gather Goods Co., a tiny gift shop full of plants, eclectic gifts and handmade products, will close its doors in downtown Raleigh on April 1. But, according to owner Michelle Smith, Gather really isn't going away at all.
Classes like printmaking, terrarium building and jewelry design, all taught by Smith, will continue, and shoppers will still be able to purchase T-shirts, body products, home decorations, books, art, terrariums and more from its online shop.
Smith has maintained brick-and-mortar locations for four years now, first in downtown Cary, but she's ready for a transition.
"Retail is an industry that is fast-paced and changing," she said. "I feel that by transitioning to an online shop, I'll have a better balance to focus more on my own goods."
As a "maker," Smith is an artist, a gardener and designer. She makes many of the gifts in her store.
"A lot of these start with a photograph," she said as she gestured to handmade pattern rich-items like pillows, greeting cards and coasters.
"I've been obsessed with patterns since I was a little girl -- I used to go outside with my camera and photograph little patterns I would see in nature. Now, I pull those images up on my computer and, along with various watercolor paintings I've made, I create a digital collage. I repeat the pattern to turn it into another pattern entirely and print it on various items."
Smith also loves interior design. "My ultimate goal is seeing my goods in homes and imagining how they look in others' homes," she said. "Gather is very home-centered."
Whether you visit Gather online or in-person, you'll see terrariums and air plants everywhere.
"I love to make garden products, because they're part of the element of creating a cozy home," she said. "My grandmother was a gardener, and there is just something very cathartic about working with your hands. Plants are very life giving and inspiring to me."
Other products in the store include specialty food items and calming body products made by others. From herbal bath salts to hush puppy mix, these are items Smith has tried herself and fallen in love with. "Many of them are made locally, but some aren't," she said. "They're all made from small business owners and makers like myself."
These products, in addition to Smith's creations, will still be available in her online shop once Gather makes its upcoming transition.
Customers can also sign-up for fun classes (spoon making, anyone?), which will be held in various venues around Raleigh. The classes are one of Smith's favorite parts of owning the business, and Gather's online presence won't stop her from continuing that tradition.
"I believe in working with my hands," she said. "We lose a lot of that in this age of technology, and I want to share my gift of making with others."
Customers can request private classes for parties or get-togethers in offices or homes.
Before April 1, you can visit Gather in downtown Raleigh in the 200 block of E. Franklin Street, across from Person Street Market, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Smith wants the online shop to have the same spirit that her downtown Raleigh location had. "I started the shop to create a beautiful, comfortable environment that features wares from makers and entrepreneurs," she said. "That's still my goal."