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August 11, 2020

Tag: giving back

Crafty Co-Op: Store boosts older crafters’ incomes

A beautiful array of handmade scarves and hats, jewelry and crocheted and beaded clothing for babies, children and adults line the shelves of a shop tucked inside the Gilroy Senior Center.Although it’s been around for 30 years, not many people in the community know about the Senior Craft Store, which is owned and operated by senior crafters who also create much of the inventory.The store provides a place for seniors to supplement their incomes, according to Roberta Garcia, a longtime volunteer.“It’s all about the seniors and contributing back to the community,” Garcia said.Seniors 55 and older who want to sell their crafts in the store pay an annual membership fee of $25. But if they volunteer to help man the store at least two days every month, the membership fee is reduced to $5 and the annual fee is waived for subsequent years.“They can become a member here at the craft store, and that doesn’t mean they have to volunteer,” Garcia said. “But we would love it if they did.”Each crafter receives 90 percent of proceeds from the sale of their crafts with 10 percent going toward the maintenance of the store. But crafter Bonnie Riley said selling their items in the store gives she and other senior crafters much more than extra income.“It gives them a sense of worth that somebody loved their items,” she said.The craft store was born in 1985 when the senior center, which opened in 1972, underwent renovations. Well aware that a devoted group of crafters utilized the center, the advisory board insisted renovations included space for the craft store. Thanks to the generosity of the City of Gilroy recreation department, the space was donated to the center. The rest, as they say, is history.Thirty years later, the craft store still going strong and has expanded to include a “thrift shop” stocked with second-hand items donated by the community. In turn, all proceeds from the thrift shop are donated to local charities.“Last year we made over $2,200,” Garcia said. “One hundred percent of that money goes straight back to the community.”Some of the nonprofit organizations that have profited from the generosity of the Senior Craft Store are the National Guard Armory, Operation Freedom Paws, Live Oak Senior Center, and the store’s host—Gilroy Senior Center.Despite the store’s long history, volunteers say most of the community is still unaware of this hidden treasure. So they found a way to bring the store into the spotlight—by planning a community event. The result of those plans is the Winterfest Crafters Faire scheduled for Dec. 4 at the senior center.Twenty-nine crafters have already signed up for the fair, Riley said. They’ll be selling lots of gift-worthy crafts, including holiday wreaths and decorations, heirloom quality scarves, hats, baby items, doll clothes, pillows, afghans, quilts, baby items, jewelry, ceramics, books and toys.“All the people who do all this crafting for the store—the knitting and crocheting, the sewing, people who make jewelry and ornaments—they’ll be at the fair,” Riley said.Homemade tamales will also be for sale courtesy of the Women’s Club.Riley hopes the fair will help make the community aware of the Senior Craft Store and the talented crafters who fill the shelves and volunteer their time.“I hope it helps the seniors; I hope they make some money and it supplements their income,” she said. “Our senior citizen community is very viable and they have so much to offer.”