WILLMAR — The owners of Patina Marquet, Tanya and Terry Smith, want their store to be more than just another store. They want it to be a community gathering place, a place where people can not only find unique items to purchase, but a place to learn a new skill and spend time with family and friends.
The store, located in Willmar's Kandi Mall in the former Coat and Tie space, sells an eclectic mix of home decor, clothing and jewelry along with many other items. The vast majority are created by local artisans and many are one-of-a-kind creations.
"We have about 70 artists that consign with us," Tanya Smith said.
In the back of the store, the couple have set up a workshop where classes are held on making candles, jewelry, signs and much more.
"We teach children all the way to elderly," she said.
Patina Marquet will also help groups with their own special projects or other events. The workshop space can be used for special events such as birthdays, Bible study, bachelorette parties and more.
"If they can think of it and we can recreate it, we'll do it," Tanya Smith said.
The newest addition to the Patina Marquet shopping experience actually involves the entire mall. In July the store put on its first craft fair, bringing in a wide range of artisans to sell their wares in the Herberger's wing of the mall. The market brought in a significant crowd of people to the mall, which was also a boon for the other stores.
"It was a huge hit," Tanya Smith said. "The mall was packed."
The Smiths are already planning on two additional markets, one in October and a two-day holiday event in November. Terry Smith said the hope is to expand the markets into the other wings of the mall.
"It is a way to fill the empty space," Terry Smith said. "It brings people to other places in the mall."
Craft shows and markets are not necessarily rare, but markets in malls are a little bit different. However, with the retail business changing, malls are looking for more ways to bring more people inside.
"It provides a sense of community," Tanya Smith said. "People like to support local."
Having an occasional store like Patina Marquet, which is open Wednesday through Saturday and does not follow the Kandi Mall hours, is also something new. For the Smiths, this is the third move in as many years. The business was first located on Business 71 near the Flags of Honor Memorial. Then they moved to a location on U.S. Highway 12, close to the intersection with Lakeland Drive. Both locations proved to be challenging.
"We were either going to give up or we had this option at the mall," Terry Smith said.
The space at the mall provided the Smiths with a lot of options on how to put their store together.
"With the wide open space, we quickly put our minds together," Terry Smith said. "It all came together."
He said the mall walkers in the morning were always interested in what was happening. By the time they opened in February, people were ready for Patina Marquet.
"The buzz with that was enough," Terry Smith said.
Store hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The store's Facebook page has information about upcoming classes and events.
The Smiths hope the buzz continues. While the past several years have been a challenge, this year has been a good one. The couple have enjoyed the relationships they have built with customers and artisans and hope more people come both to see the store and to enjoy the special markets.
"The experience has been incredible," Tanya Smith said.