Best Locally Owned Businesses - AR Workshop St. Joseph
Local businesses are foundational to our community. That's why our real estate team is passionate about supporting locally owned businesses here in St. Joseph. Our team leader and REALTOR, Lorrie Ramseier, sat down to interview the owner of AR Workshop St Joseph.
Hey, I'm Lorrie Ramseier. And we're here today with Jessica from the AR Workshop. And I wanted to ask her a few questions and introduce you in case you don't know, hopefully, you already do. But this is such a fun place. And we just wanted to sit down with you today and ask you a few questions.
Yeah, thank you for having me. So this is AR workshop, and we are located at 3855 Frederick Avenue. So right next to Perkins and McAllister, if you're not familiar, and we've been in this location for about a year and a half, and coming up on our four year anniversary of being in business.
That's great. And I love this space because you have so much natural light. And just when you're doing the crafts, which I will just tell you that I am craft challenged. So this is the place to go if you want to come and have a great time. And Jessica just makes it all so easy. And then you can go home and it looks like you knew what you were doing.
Yes, yes. Anybody can do it. That's true. Yeah. So DIY stands for do it yourself, but you're not totally on your own. So when you sign up for a workshop you have an instructor that's helping you every step of the way. And we kind of cheat. So we use stencils. And so yeah, so and we can show them what a stencil looks like. But they get to sign up and choose a project type they want to do, something maybe like a porch sign a centerpiece box, and then design, and then that design is printed on a stencil. So it's kind of foolproof, you know, they just paint over the stencil right off. And wow, look what I did.
So is that already set up beforehand?
Yes. So they would register, usually on our website ahead of time, pick the day and time they want to come and it can be alone, it can be with a group of friends or you know, corporate event, anything like that. And so they register ahead of time, and then I know what they're going to do. So I have wood or canvas ready and their stencil ready. And then when they come they can choose paint colors, thing colors, kind of customize it in that way.
So do you have a list of things to pick from or how they know what they wanted?
Yes. So on the website, if they choose the date and time they want to come then it'll say kind of prompts them. Here's the project choices. And we do get feedback that it's a little overwhelming. Like there are so many choices, yes. So there are ways to narrow that down. If you know I want a Christmas sign or I want a certain holiday or family, so you can do any design any time of the year. It doesn't have to be that season. But you can that's nice to be able to narrow that down so that you know, no, you want Christmas, all that other stuff, filters out. Yeah. So now you have maybe three pages of designs instead of twenty.
Awesome. So I know I've done a chunky blanket before. Do you still have those?
Yeah, so we'll have some specialty workshops. We do chunky knit blanket, we might have a guest instructor come and do paint pouring or other things that I'm not really an expert on, or cookie decorating around the holidays. So this would be kind of specialty workshop. But yeah, chunky knit blankets are pretty popular still this time of year through spring when it's still a little cooler out. So and we are coming up with new techniques, new patterns. That kind of keeps it fresh.
All right. Well, what else would you like to tell us about? What's your most popular one?
Most Popular workshop I would say is usually the porch sign. Now we did just come out with a new project which we are frequently coming out with new things. But I would say right now it's the sled. So yes, so we've got the full size sled, it's really fun to decorate. And then the St. Joseph location here actually came up with a mini sled like a little mini me version. So it's kind of cute to put like on a fireplace mantel. So we've got some special workshops for that. So that one with the sides is twenty-two inches, and the big one is forty-eight inches. Yeah. So and I don't think I think I've sold the little mini ones. So I can't show a sample of that. But I've got the big one. So it's always fun when we come out with new stuff like that.
So do you want to show us something you already have set up?
I can do that. So we do have something set up for a class that's happening tomorrow. So when a guest would come they've got their wood ready and their stencil and sometimes we'll do what we call a little bit of pre weeding so they can kind of see how that works. Here's the wood. They would get to sand it pick if they want to stain it or paint it and then we have techniques also that we can teach them to do.
You already have this stencil ready?
Yeah, so we've already got it here. And if it's something that is customized, like it might have a family name on it last name or a marriage, your kids anything like that, when they're filling out the information of, it will ask for that. So, we can put it on there, or they can say I don't want it to have my last name, so we can customize any of that information. And then these workshops are usually about two to three hours they can expect. They can bring any food or drinks that they want as well to enjoy. And this is just like a public workshop. Anybody could sign up and calm. But we also do birthday parties, adults or kids, bachelorette parties, lots of team buildings, and holiday parties this time of year as well. This is mostly what we do the workshops, mostly here, we can do off site workshops for special events, or maybe a really big group. But we also have lots of retail here. So for especially gifting season, so we have this is, I would say by far our bestseller, our candles company in Iowa, smell amazing, but also they're just a few. We do have signs in the workshop for sale. So anybody can just come in and purchase a sign.
That's good to know, then you can just have a last minute gift you need that's awesome.
And these, the signs that are here, they can register and make that sign themselves. The signs that I do put in, in retail, I actually put 30% off of what it would cost to come and make it yourself. Just because I've decided on the paints and colors, they don't get to customize that. So that's they can take that kind of a discount, then. There are some things up front that are already ready to be customized. So they can tell me, they can tell us on the spot Last Name, and we can go ahead and get that ready for them. So that's our little area here that says personalize it. So these are little mini trays. So we've got something already ready. So they would choose from the six design options. And we can just print that and either make it for them or give them to give it to them as a to-go kit. So and that is something else we do our to-go kits. So if you want to do something at home.
So that comes with the stencil already?
So this come with stencil and paint. But so that's how our to-go kits work. So most of our projects can be made at home unless it has to be nailed together or something like that. So they would get all the materials, all the instructions for making it at home.
What a fun thing to do with your kids or grandkids. That's a great idea.
So lots of retail fun. And you can see we've kind of exploded with fall, and we're getting ready to turn that over to Christmas here. We also have a chunky blanket that is a Chiefs version, very popular. And so they can come in and buy something like that too. Or they could choose their own colors. And we can make it for them. And we have a pretty quick turnaround, usually just a day or two for something like that if they're wanting it for gifting. We also have gift cards. Those are always a great idea. They can come in and purchase those gift cards. Or they can actually do it online and get it mailed to them a hardcopy or email, they can just send it in an email to somebody you know, if you kind of forgot, you know, it was boss's day or something and you want to like send it over like you didn't just remember you could do that.
So Jessica, thanks so much for having us here. We think it's very important to support our local economy. And so just wanted to ask you, have you noticed any difference in the last few months just with inflation kind of on the rise?
Yeah, I would say, it has affected us quite a bit this year, even more than the past couple of years, which was surprising, but just Yes, this year, things costing a lot more. So we were just kind of hoping that our customers still really value experience and even though they do get to leave with a great item when they come here. For me, it's all about you know, families spending time together, or you know, even friends and just making memories. So we're optimistic that with the holiday season that things will pick up a little bit.
Well, it is great. It's a great place to come and enjoy each other and just enjoy making a quality product like she said, and it's so much fun because as I've mentioned, I'm not a crafter but it makes me feel like I am so that's always a lot of fun and I appreciate what you do so thank you so much. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
You know, we talked a little bit about the website. So yes, so if somebody wanted to register for a class or reach me, information is on the website, which is arworkshop.com/stjoseph or if they just go to the general website, they can find my location.
Okay. Well, you have a beautiful store, and thank you for your time.
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