‘We want to give back’: Chamber director opens new business in Albert Lea

Published 4:51 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

Shari Sprague is known throughout the community for serving as the executive director for the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. However, she will soon be known for something else as well — the owner of Albert Lea’s newest small business, All the Things studio and boutique.

The store will serve as a place where arts and crafts enthusiasts can come to shop for handmade items, attend project classes or even become vendors themselves. The grand opening of All the Things begins today at 10 a.m.

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Currently, the store carries items from local vendors like coffee mugs, decorative signs and other home goods. Sprague said that she has tried to give each vendor a small space of their own in the store so that every artist gets the attention that his or her work deserves.

For Sprague, the most important component of All the Things was the action of giving back to the community.

“There will be a lot of fundraising events and things like that going on, as well as the classes and the retail,” said Sprague. “That is what we want to be known for — that we’re supporting individuals who are trying to grow their crafts or their art, and we want to give back.”

The building All the Things is housed in was previously known as The Hive. Sprague took ownership of the business at the beginning of May and spent several days remodeling and redecorating with the help of her family.

A lot of thought went into the creative details of the store. One example of this is its name. According to Sprague, she was looking at about 50 different possible names when her son suggested that she look in the Bible for inspiration. Sprague noted that she really resonated with Philippians 4:13, “I can do ‘all things’ through Christ who strengthens me.” Sprague said she hoped there would be another sign that “All the Things” was the right name to go with.

The “sign” that she received soon afterwards was quite literal. While visiting an acquaintance’s house, Sprague discovered that a sign on the person’s garage had the verse Philippians 4:13 printed onto it. From there, the name “All the Things” stuck.

Sprague said that the creative work needed to open the store came easily for her, but there was a learning curve when it came to making the store’s point of sale system and other administrative work.

“That’s probably been the most challenging for me because I’ve never needed to do it,” Sprague said. However, she added that she loves to learn new things so it was also an enjoyable experience.

Sprague said she has received a lot of support from fellow Chamber of Commerce committee members when opening All the Things.

“I see the store as being a community hub for people to hang out, get to meet and know each other better and spend some fun time doing creative things,” said executive committee member Brad Kirchner. “It will be a great opportunity for people to learn a new skill and have fun doing it.”

Sprague assured everyone that she is going to continue her job at the Chamber of Commerce. When asked how she would find the time for everything, she smiled and replied.
“I am going to continue doing ‘all the things.’”

Today’s grand opening will have vendors and craft kits, signups for classes, a drawing for a Milkhouse candle and treats from All About the Cupcake.

All the Things is located at 136 South Broadway Avenue in Albert Lea. Sprague said that specific hours are yet to be determined but will most likely be limited hours Tuesday through Saturday throughout the summer. She also encouraged people to check out the store’s Facebook page as she will be posting store news, updates and other information there. Those interested in becoming a vendor at All the Things are welcome to talk to Sprague directly during the grand opening or through Facebook Messenger.