WALLINGFORD — As markets and fairs announce cancellations this summer due to coronavirus concerns, a local soap maker has opened a new store featuring other local artisans.
Lisa McMurray, a Wallingford resident who has been making soap for 20 years, opened Lisa’s Soaps & Fine Artistic Handmade Gifts two weeks ago at 28 N. Colony Road, near the gazebo.
The store showcases a wide variety of items from more than 15 other vendors.
McMurray said Tuesday she wanted to give craftspeople an outlet to sell their wares since, not only are events being canceled, many promoters aren’t refunding deposits right away, if at all.
Deposits for space to sell at some events can cost hundreds of dollars and have been paid a couple of years in advance, she said.
“We work all year long,” she said. “Some promoters are being nice and offering us refunds. A lot of them aren’t.”
The Durham Fair announced its cancellation in May, and the Berlin Fair, North Haven Fair and Celebrate Wallingford followed soon after. The Big E announced its cancellation Monday.
Due to state restrictions on gatherings, she’s limiting the store to two customers at a time.
She installed a portable sink with hot and cold running water. Customers must wash their hands upon entering and then put on disposable gloves.
Masks are available. She also provides hand wipes on each table.Creative products
McMurray said her husband, demolition contractor Sean McMurray, helped finance the store. Tuesday was their wedding anniversary, incidentally.
She requires all of her vendors live in Connecticut and sell handmade items, no imports allowed.
“There’s a place for direct marketing, but it’s not here,” she said.
Creativity abounds and many crafters use recycled materials.
Vendors offer glass plant holders made from wine bottles, jewelry from bullet casings, candles in coconut shells, even real fur teddy bears made from old coats.
There’s one-of-a-kind lamps, reusable crochet water balloons and a DEET-free insect repellent.
McMurray’s brand, Lisa’s Soaps Naked and Natural, is displayed along the back wall. She offers bar soap, lotion and cupcake-shaped bath bombs, which are popular at parties and baby showers, she said.
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.‘Perfect time’ for a new store
Lisa’s Soaps took over the space that was the longtime location of Sweet Cioccolata, which moved next door in March after the former tenant, Cindy’s Unique Shop, moved to a larger store across the street.
Redscroll Records and Style by Katelyn Salon also share the building’s row of storefronts that face Route 5, near the intersection of Hall Avenue.
Liz Landow, Wallingford Center Inc. executive director, said Tuesday that with all the expansion in that area of lower downtown, including the sale of the prominent corner building at 4 Center St. earlier this year, “it’s a perfect time to put a new store in that area.”
She also supported the store’s mission of providing commercial space for craftspeople.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea to support other local crafters,” she said, “and especially with the fact that most of the area fairs are all canceled. There’s very few outlets for these people to be able to sell their things.”
Celebrate Wallingford has refunded deposits for its vendors, Landow said.
LTakores@record-journal.comCurrent vendors at Lisa’s Soaps & Fine Artistic Handmade Gifts
All vendors are based in Connecticut.
Lisa’s Soaps Naked and Natural
Pebble Portraits by Heather
Let It Flow Studios
Spiritual Balance from Collections by Jan
My Sister’s Baggage
Crochet by Lorilynn Jones
Fur Real Bears
DNF Lamp Designs