Thrift/Craft Alternative Art Supply
In September 2018, Thrift/Craft Alternative Art Supply opened in Market Square. The shop is run by the wonderful Megan Sandover-Sly and is filled with unique treasures for artists of all ages, talents, and interests. From vintage magazines to gears to Scrabble tiles and so much more, there is something for everyone here. The store also accepts donations of art supplies, if you’re looking for a new home for crafting materials and want to help keep supplies out of the waste stream.
What is your background?
“I grew up in Victoria, for my teenage years at least, and then I went to film school in Toronto to be a specialist in Art Direction. I didn’t really like the film industry that much. Then I started making sea glass jewelry and selling it in the Inner Harbour and worked at a lot of different places downtown. It just kind of happened, to be honest. It’s actually weird. I don’t really know how I got here exactly, but I did it all on my own. I think the big push was selling stuff at the Inner Harbour. I had pretty good skills at dealing with all sorts of different types of people and reactions to what you’re doing, which helps in retail.”
What made you want to open Thrift/Craft?
“I thought it was something that Victoria needed. I remember that Victoria used to have a lot more weird stores downtown and places, when I was growing up, that were geared towards punks or – not that there’s a problem with yoga and smoothie places and that kind of thing. But there’s a place for a lot of other people. I also thought that thrift stores never had enough good craft supplies, so it was kind of a push for all sorts of things at once.”
For someone who hasn’t been to the shop before, what is your business? What makes it special?
“There’s really no other store like it in Victoria. There’s definitely not that many places like it in most of the world. It’s a second-hand supply store, but it also has new supplies and things that you might not consider art supplies like vintage magazines. It’s definitely a unique store. I find everyone interprets it differently like sometimes people think it’s a kid’s store. It’s a store for kids at heart and cool weirdos. It has things like vintage playboys and one of the top sellers is something I make called “Adult Only Collage Packs”, which have pictures from 60’s black and white nudist magazines and playboys and all sorts of things that are really fun to make collages with but you definitely aren’t going to find at Michaels or something like that.”
What inspires you?
“That’s a very broad question. I don’t know… Curiosity. Finding out about different people and life. That’s more interesting sometimes than travel to me.”
“I can’t imagine this business working in another area of Victoria. Also, I was considering young people when I opened this store. I assumed I’d have a lot of customers who were teenagers and university students and stuff like that. But I do get a lot of people in who are kids and most buses go downtown, so that was a big consideration too.”
What advice would you give to others who want to start a business? What would you have liked to know before you opened yours?
“I already knew that running a business wasn’t that glamorous. A lot of time I think people think that, “oh wow, you own a shop, you must have money” or “wow, you own a store, you must have something more figured out”. But there’s a lot of stores that seem like they’re doing really well but they aren’t. Or stores that might not seem like they’re doing really well but they have a community behind them. For me, a lot of the time with my store, people think “oh wow, this must be so much fun. I’d love to do this. I have a lot of things in my garage that I can make a craft store with”. The amount of time I spend, like up until one in the morning, making and packaging all the products that need to go out, and if I didn’t do that, the store wouldn’t be where it is now. It’s a lot of sacrifice of your personal time and social life, that you just have to do. Maybe if you have a business partner, but then that is open for lots of issues in its own right. It’s really hard but if it’s something that you really want to do, it’s really fulfilling.”
How to find Thrift/Craft:
Thrift/Craft Alternative Art Supply is located on the courtyard level of Market Square at #15-560 Johnson Street. Check out their website or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram!