‘A creative space for the whole community’

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Woman opens building downtown where people can come to create

An Albert Lea woman with a love of creating opened a new space downtown on Wednesday that she hopes will become a creative space for the community.

Tammy Fink said her own passion for creating began at a young age when she learned the art of sewing and crafting as a child from her mother, Louise Hagen.

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In 2017, after leaving her job at Mayo Clinic after 25 years because of an injury, she said she was in Junktion Market’s original location on Main Street when co-owner Penny Thompson, whom she had known from Mayo, asked her if she wanted to make stuff to sell at their store.

“I started making pillows, gnomes, things like that, and I was one of their first vendors,” Fink said.

When Junktion Market moved downtown, Fink started teaching classes on making gnomes and signs in addition to selling her creations under the business name of Auntie’s What-Knot Shoppe.

As time went on, however, she said it got to be difficult because the space at the store was limited. She picked the classes up again when Thompson and co-owner Andrea Strom moved their estate sales business into the former hardware store building in Clarks Grove. Then, Thompson and Strom decided to consolidate both Junktion Market and their estate sales business into the Clarks Grove building, and the downtown building, at 136 S. Broadway, became available.

“I thought, well, that’s the perfect opportunity to start doing classes and have a creative space for the whole community, really,” Fink said. “I want it to be a place where any maker, if they want to host a class, they can set up a time to do that.”

Or, if someone wants to host a birthday party, a bridal shower or a team-building session, they can schedule a time to come in and create with a group.

She’s calling the space The Hive MN LLC, and there will be painting, ceramics and jewelry classes. One of her vendors has scheduled homeschool art classes there, and she also anticipates hosting Community Ed classes there. Her first one was scheduled for Thursday.

She is still looking for people who would like to teach classes, though she does have some makers already in the works, including the owner of Nine Pink Roses Designs; Val Foss of The Painted Horse Studio in rural Glenville; and Nina Cardel of grey+clay, among others. She is also looking for vendors that need an outlet to sell their creations in her retail space at the front of the building.

In addition to classes, people can also come in anytime during her open hours to create from kits or the ceramics available at The Hive. Paint and other supplies are provided, and she has a kiln at the back of the store to finish the ceramics. She hopes to add macrame and jewelry kits in the future and is open to other ideas of what people want to see.

Fink thanked Thompson and Strom, who she says have been her mentors in getting the space open. She will still have some of her creations for sale at their new space, which has been rebranded as The Vintage Grove Co. and is set to open later this month.

She said she is grateful to her husband, who helped build the tables for the space, and her mother, who creates the gnomes she has for sale now and who will also help out with paint classes.

The Hive will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Fink said she is flexible for people who want to set up different hours outside of that schedule.

A grand opening celebration is planned for Feb. 17. She said Wildflour Confectionery plans to set up a pop-up that day with baked goods.