The Jay St. de Schenectady collective offers artists a home base

The Jay Street shopping district of Schenectady has just added a new brick and mortar store to its array of local boutiques. Originally from Schenectady, Erin Eckler is the owner of Jay St. Collective, a retail space for locally made crafts.

The Jay St. Collective features exhibits from a multitude of local artists, including an exhibit by Eckler herself. Artists are given a six-month lease during which they continuously rotate pieces for sale.

The Collective held its grand opening on Friday where a number of people waited for the doors to open. Mayor Gary McCarthy stopped by for a visit.

“The support from my friends and the community has been amazing. My eagerness outweighed my fear, even though I had never started a business before. It all came to fruition over the past month and I’m excited to see where it takes us, ”said beaming Eckler.

She started her business after Clinton Street Mercantile, her first space as a salesperson, closed permanently last August. Similar to the Jay St. Collective, the Clinton Street Mercantile has served as a place for many artists to showcase and sell their work. When the market closed, artists including Eckler frantically searched for a new location to display their handicrafts.

“I want our artists to have freedom and control over their work. Each of the sales areas is configured and created independently. Artists have time to understand what works and how they want to move forward, ”Eckler said. “It’s supposed to be an incubation period, with places available from $ 70 to $ 300 per month.”

“The Clinton Street Mercantile has served as a residence for many artists. Once I learned of its closure, I decided to explore the opportunities to start my own store. I knew Jay St. had some free space so I decided to sue him, ”Eckler said.

She received a lot of support from the former owner of the Clinton Street Mercantile, Brandon Whitall.

“Brandon is a great friend. I brought him the idea of ​​opening my own store and he was just as excited as I was. Brandon helped me every step of the way, I couldn’t have done it without him. The encouragement I have also received from local small business owners and the town of Schenectady has been overwhelming. No matter who I turned to, I have always received sincere approval and assistance. “

Capital Region artist Shelley Burgio also exhibited her work at the Clinton Street Mercantile before retaining her space at the Jay St. Collective.

“I lived at the Clinton Street Mercantile for almost a year and a half before it closed. In addition to selling my artwork, I’m also an elite Dixie Belle Paint Company retailer, so a physical storefront is imperative, ”Burgio said. “I was so grateful that Erin opened this place and created a community of artists right here in the store.”

Eckler said the success of the featured artists goes hand in hand with the success of its overall business strategy.

Artist and Union College graduate Rachel McNeil already finds Eckler’s business model advantageous.

“I met Erin in Clinton Street and she was so warm and welcoming. The way she brings artists together really boosts your confidence as a creator. I was struggling to find the best way to configure my screen. A few moments after I expressed my concerns, the other artists came over and offered to help. It was amazing, there is a really strong sense of community here, ”said McNeil.

The Jay St. Collective currently does not have an online store, although the store is open five days a week. The store is open Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“Right now we want customers to visit the store in person. The in-store experience is one that we’ve worked hard to create, and it allows for great relationships with customers, ”Eckler said.

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