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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cottage Collective: ‘all the stuff you don’t need but you want’

By Joe Stumpe
Eagle correspondent

The Cottage Collective is open Thursday through Saturday, but that doesn’t mean its vendors are taking it easy the rest of the week.

“We use Sunday through Wednesday to restock or remake our products,” said Abbe Doll, who put together the group of seven boutique businesses.

“The buzz or hype we want to create is that there’s always new stuff on Thursday.”

The place was certainly buzzing during last weekend’s grand opening as customers streamed in and out.

“Very cute!” one shopper said, describing the set-up and drawing a big smile from Doll.

The collective is housed in one of three turn-of-the-century bungalows near Hillside and Central that make up the Green Elephant Village shopping center.

Inside, customers pass from a room full of vintage home furnishings to another featuring handmade jewelry to another full of paper goods and so on.

Doll said she spotted a “for lease” sign on the building while shopping in the village in December and within a few days had arranged to take over the space.

The other vendors sublease space in the building from her. Several had been selling their products online.

“I just had this vision of how wonderful it would be to have a bricks-and-mortar place,” Doll said.

Doll, a hairdresser by trade, began repurposing furniture for herself, friends and a few buyers a couple of years ago.

“My husband works for Habitat for Humanity, so there’s not a lot of extra income,” Doll said. “I still want to love my home and the furniture in my home. This has been my passion for about two or three years.”

In addition to Doll’s business, All Dolled Up, the collective consists of:

•  A Prairie Market, owned by Courtney Browning, who sells farmhouse and cottage antiques. “She’s a ‘picker’ – like the (reality TV) show,” Doll said.

•  Poema Creations, owned by Missy Chester, who fashions clay jewelry that Doll calls “light and fun to wear.”

•  Zerbers, owned by Tara Shepherd, who sews clothing and more for babies and children.

•  A Lady With A Baby, owned by Tiffany Classen, who makes aprons, scarves and more.

•  Paper Goods Creative, owned by Jenny Wenzel, who sells personalized stationery and other paper goods.

•  Marigold Road, owned by Mindy Harris, who makes wool felt accessories.

Events by Ashley, a wedding planning service owned by Ashley Moore, will soon join the collective as well.

Browning, who has been selling her merchandise online, said a physical location appealed to her because the two markets “are different and have different customers.”

“I have loved boutiques since I was a little girl,” she said. “They’re usually unique and local and family-owned. I always thought it would be fun to have one. I’m only 24 (years old) and I’m just thrilled about it.”

Wenzel said the vendors hope to give customers a fun experience.

“This is all the stuff you don’t need but you want,” she said.

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