New Eclectics Shop is Exactly That

Surely there’s not a shop more aptly named than Eclectics, that opened May 22 at 8085 Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor – the former location of Novel Ideas bookstore.

The word is defined as “deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources,” and that’s exactly what one finds inside.

Roberta “Birdie” Thelen says she’d thought about doing something like an artists cooperative for a number of years. “Perhaps retail. I wasn’t sure, but wanted someplace nice where artists could display their work.” She looked at several possible locations, but nothing worked out until the Baileys Harbor site became available.

“My goal was to have at least seven people involved,” Thelen says, “and I sent out letters. I was surprised at the amount of interest. It grew through word of mouth and came together very quickly, in just a couple of weeks.”

At present, 13 people have set up displays at the shop, with another artist expected to join them soon. Thelen, herself, has nothing there just now, but according to one of the other artists, “Birdie has surprises yet to come.”

The eclectic variety of items for sale includes: acorn jewelry and bracelet medallions formed from metal clay by Jean Fritschka. The clay items are prepared, then fired and emerge as solid metal – silver (purer than sterling), copper or bronze.

Nancy Akerly teaches a box-making class in the back area of Eclectics, a new eclectic cooperative in downtown Baileys Harbor.

Nancy Akerly, a retired Gibraltar teacher, has sheets of the paper she marbles and exquisite items she has made using the paper – journals, boxes and earrings shaped like tiny books.

Susan Armour, who used to own a retail gallery, has an assortment of goods, including whimsical pottery items and dishes.

Kathy Atwood, Thelen’s daughter and an early childhood major in college, displays repurposed toys in the children’s corner. Timothy Burkhardt, an Illinois artist, has a wall of paintings. Ken Culbertson has a display of Tao wood pieces with Chinese calligraphy burned into them, while his wife, Maggie, has a wide assortment of cat-related items. Jen Gaddes has a display of knit hats and neck pieces. Carol Schmidt offers photographs of Door County images – flowers, lighthouses and butterflies. Some are matted, some are framed and a recent shot of a trillium is reproduced on metal.

Michelle Schmidt paints miniature barn quilts on wood and also does mosaics. Wind chimes constructed from old kitchen utensils are the specialty of Dana Schwartz. Jerry Studinski displays metal garden/yard art of all sizes and shapes, including flowers and fish. Pete Thelen, Birdie’s husband, offers a collection of CDs of his own music and that of other Door County musicians. There is a small assortment of paperback books and a set of 10 Bradford Exchange Collector Plates. Definitely an eclectic offering.

All but two of the artists are Door County residents and many of them have known one another for years. The people involved in the co-op take turns manning the shop from 10 am to 5 pm. It’s presently open Thursday through Sunday, but will have weekly hours starting in late June. Although the building is listed for sale, the group hopes to be open at least through the fall festival season.