Soap, paintings and bags are just a few of the artisan goods residents can find in a Round Hill craft shop that’s open only 42 days a year.
Etc!, located off Main Street across from the Town Office, has been open for three-and-a-half years and, on the last Friday-Sunday of each month, opens its doors to sell crafts made by area artists. Jenny McMahon and Mo Alvarez opened the 300-square-foot craft shop in spring 2016 after years selling their products in different craft shows. They were looking for a way to work at their own pace. McMahon, a found-object artist who creates goods made from everyday items, and Alvarez, a potter, fill their shop each month with not only their own work, but also creations from more than 30 area artists, the majority of whom live in Loudoun County.
Their journey to opening Etc! began when they met nearly two decades ago, when McMahon bought Alvarez’s Mulberry Street house in town. Years of craft fairs later, the Main Street building became available for lease in 2016 when the antique shop closed after decades of operation.
The duo’s idea was to have a more permanent place to sell their crafts on a more temporary basis, like a pop-up shop or a weekend craft fair. That’s why Etc! is open the last three days of each month, in addition to every weekend in December leading up to Christmas.
While they didn’t know how long the shop would work out, that uncertainty has been subdued. Three-and-a-half years later and they’re celebrating their success by setting up for their fourth December of business this Christmastide.
The items the duo pack into their tiny shop include all-natural bath and body products, oil paintings, leather goods, different types of jewelry each month, collages, clocks, textile work, pottery, hand-crafted silver, seasonal decorations and much more.
“It really does run the gamut,” McMahon said. “We never have trouble filling the shop up.”
And the products they sell are products they’d buy themselves. “We shop the shop a lot of times before [our customers] shop the shop,” Alvarez said.
To prepare for the customers they’ll see this December, and the many they see on any given weekend throughout the year, the two spend about a week in the shop re-arranging furniture to keep returning customers on their toes. They said that strategy works, referencing times when their customers finally notice crafts after months of shopping there simply because the items are in a different spot.
During setup for each month’s sale, the duo is also busy accepting drop-offs from artists—artists who tend to make more money from selling their goods at Etc! than they do at other venues because of the low commission rates McMahon and Alvarez retain. “We know what it’s like to be a maker,” Alvarez said.
They also know what it’s like to be a buyer. The price range for the craft goods they sell starts as low as $3 for lip balm or $7 for a bar of soap and has gone up to $500 for paintings. “We are definitely conscious of pricing and making it affordable but also knowing that the artist is putting forth a lot of effort and time,” McMahon said.
McMahon and Alvarez say business is increasing. As for marketing, the duo depends on word of mouth and a lot of social media. They also get their name out there by supporting other art venues like the Western Loudoun Art and Studio Tour. “It’s definitely been sort of a grass-roots type of thing,” McMahon said.
Moving forward, the two said they would talk about the future in January, as they do every year. “We are just kind of flying by the seat of our pants a little bit,” McMahon said.
For right now, though, they’re expecting hundreds of customers to stop in this weekend for Black Friday shopping and every weekend in December until Christmas. With an expectation that they’ll start running low on products, they plan to call up their contributing artists to request more crafts so the shop stays as close to fully-stocked as possible this season.
Etc! is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. It will be open Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec. 6-8, Dec. 13-15 and Dec. 21-22. In 2020, it will return to normal dates, starting with Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Learn more at facebook.com/etc.RoundHill.