Home for the Holidays is a pop-up boutique store located in Lakewood, Ohio. The shop is exclusively open leading up to Christmas so you can buy unique handmade gifts during the holiday season! The store offers a carefully curated collection of handmade and small batch goods from makers in and around the Cleveland area. With many carefully selected local brands and businesses helping to supply the shop each year, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect gift!
My name is Maureen Koopman-I am an artist, a serial entrepreneur and a Boy Mom times two. I was born and raised in Lakewood, OH (just outside of Cleveland) and have left and come back not once, but twice and don’t intend on ever moving again! I love the spirit and diversity of this community and I am proud to raise our two boys in this environment.
In my “past life” I was an Interior Designer and feel that plays heavily in my success as a retail brick and mortar owner. I enjoy designing and merchandising the space as much as I love greeting each and every customer. Along side Interior Design, I have been creative my whole life. I typically spent any free time growing up, crafting something with my Mom and my sister. We spent countless hours at Pat Catan’s, buying lots of Darice products! It is my sincere passion to create and I crave that outlet in my life- it is my stress relief. I am the face of All Spelled Out which is my maker small business that I established in 2010. It all started when I had my first son and was designing his nursery. I couldn’t find anything I truly liked for placing his name over his crib which I really wanted to do. So, what else does a creative person who is also an Interior Designer do, but make it herself. I hand-painted canvases and placed painted wood letters to spell his name on each of the different canvases. When I posted photos on social media, people began asking where they could get them as well. After a LOT of encouragement, I began selling the pieces I was creating in my home studio at markets and events around Ohio.
When my husband and I had our second son, we decided that I would leave the architecture firm I was working at to pursue my own business and take care of our kiddos. I had no idea what a wonderful adventure it would lead to!
How did you get the idea for your business?
My sister has lived in Brooklyn, NY for over 10 years, I would frequently visit her and be inspired by all the unique pop up shops and concepts that happened all over the city.
I think I always had it in the back of my mind that would be something I would like to do. I spent many years doing vendor markets and fairs which afforded me the opportunity to meet so many other talented makers in my area.
Then in 2016, what started as a light bulb moment while sitting at a traffic light, has since become a well-loved Lakewood destination for everyone’s holiday list. I saw the largest For Lease sign ever- literally the size of the entire retail storefront window and immediately thought “I should do a pop-up shop!!” At first I kind of laughed it off like my own idea was silly but then it just wouldn’t quit. I couldn’t get the excitement at the prospect of pulling it off to leave my head. I contacted some of the people in that circle I had created from the shows and events and within two weeks, we had the store up and running for a crazy popular Chocolate Walk in our city. I feel that in an age of mass-produced goods, a handmade gift means more than ever. Instant gratification is such a thing these days and there is something so heartwarming about an item that someone took the time to create with their own hands. If you’re not a maker yourself, but still want to give handmade- Home for the Holidays has got you covered!
How would you describe Home for the Holidays?
The shop consists of a juried selection of over 40 local artists, makers and small businesses with a variety of offerings including accessories for men, women & children, clever paper goods, holiday ornaments & prints, hand-stamped jewelry, skincare, and fun kitsch items you won’t see everywhere. Shoppers also find edible treats from several local companies and fun surprises for your furry friends! I always tell people, “Make your list, check it twice, then come see us”. You’ll likely get most, if not all of your holiday shopping done in one trip!
The space varies each year since as a pop-up I do not have a long-term lease for a location but the vibe is still the same. I pull together various different pieces of furniture and clever displays to create a boutique that looks like it will be there permanently. Many people cannot believe when they look around that it is all just temporary for the holiday!
My hands down most favorite location was this past holiday, Season Three, as I like to call it. I fell in love with a vintage storefront that was over 100 years old but was incredibly dated. And not dated in a good, 100-year-old vintage storefront kind of way. I saw the potential and worked tirelessly with the help of the owner’s crew, to bring back the charm of the original tin ceilings, light fixtures and gorgeous maple hardwood floors which were covered by a dropped acoustical ceiling and awful burgundy carpet. It was a true diamond in the rough and I couldn’t be prouder of how it turned out! I loved it so much in fact that I am currently renovating the other side for my next big idea.
Were there any challenges you faced when getting your brick and mortar started? If so, how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge that I face each year is securing a space and finding landlords that understand my concept and were open to a short-term lease. I certainly did not invent the concept of a pop-up shop but it was not as well known in the Cleveland area in 2016 as it has since become. I spent countless hours making phone calls, driving up and down the main streets to see what was available, and explaining over my concept that I was certain was a successful idea. There were many times, especially this last season where I thought, “Oh my gosh I am never going to find a space and I have all these makers on board with me”. Thankfully everything happens for a reason because I ended up finding my dream space after three years of doing the shop.
I think perseverance was the only way to overcome it. I was passionate about my idea and making it a reality. In the end, I feel like I ended up just where I was supposed to be each time, including last year’s space which little did I know, was to be my final location search! I am in the process of renovating and opening a year-round concept for a boutique co-working & event space in the same building and I am so excited!
Walk us through a typical day in the life of a business owner.
I think that is what I love so much about this gig- There really isn’t a typical day. The only routine parts of my day are getting my fourth grader and kindergartner to school and then picking them up at the end of the day. In between the hours are quickly filled with errands, phone calls, emails, making posts and answering social media inquiries, researching new artists and makers in the area. Currently most of my day is spent renovating the new space.
What was your biggest ‘A-ha’ moment?
My biggest A-ha moment was literally deciding to do the shop in the first place. It was literally such an overwhelming thought that I should do this thing, I couldn’t get it out of my head until it was a reality!
What are your favorite tools that you use for your business?
My favorite tools are ones that have made my life easier and typically involve better technology. For my cash wrap, I have used and loved Square from the beginning. It is such a user-friendly platform and helped me determine what to pay each of my makers, gave fascinating reports to compare one week to the next and one year to the next. There are so many valuable bits of data that are at your fingertips that help you determine the health of your business.
This past year, for Season Three, I finally invested in a Bluetooth bar-code scanner that syncs to my iPad as well as labels. It made the checkout process not only more professional but much more efficient!
What sets your store apart?
Customer Service! My favorite part of the whole process is when the shop is finally all put together and we open our doors. I am an extrovert by nature and love meeting and talking to new people, especially when I get to help them find the perfect gift(s). I treat everyone the way I would like to be treated and typically get wonderful reviews on how good people were made to feel in my shop. That means the world to me!
The shop is also truly a family affair. My 10-year-old son is my #1 employee and brand ambassador. He loves spending time at the shop greeting customers, helping them find items in the store, and cashing out their purchases. Having him there adds another personal touch that you won’t find in a big box retail environment.
Some of my top selling items include: soy candles in upcycled wine and beer bottles from Furbish and Fire. They have the most wonderful scents that are sophisticated and not over-powering. You can easily let them burn all day and not feel overwhelmed with the scent.
Another popular maker is TootSweet Soap Shack, luxurious goats milk bar soaps, creams & tub teas, as well as beeswax sugar scrubs. I absolutely love the way they make my skin feel and Brooks also creates them in a variety of scents that make them so giftable. When I first met her, I was a die-hard body wash type of girl, no bar soap for me. She convinced me to try it, if I didn’t like it, she wasn’t offended. That was 9 years ago and I haven’t used body wash since!
People cannot get enough of the amazing paper goods that Jen of Minor Details, CLE has to offer! She has ideas for days and I joke that she creates things that you didn’t even know you needed but they are a MUST HAVE! Her focus is on presence not presents and I think that is a wonderful message at the holiday season. She creates gifts that bring friends and family together and get them to put down their phones and interact. Magical in this digital age!
What goal(s) are you working toward?
Each year I strive to find “quality over quantity” when it comes to the artists in the shop. I seek out unique makers that will appeal to our customer base and are items they will be thrilled to gift their friends and family. This year, instead of participating in craft shows as a vendor, I am attending them as a guest to find the newest and the coolest. Quality over quantity also applies in that it is not all about how many followers an artist has or even how many years in business they have behind them. It’s about seeking unique and handcrafted goods that people have come to expect from our shop.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to start their own business?
Just do it. You are never going to figure out the perfect timing or have all the answers. You have to face your fears and do it anyway. There are unknowns, certainly, but there are also rewards in so many different aspects of your life. I like to live life with no regrets and no “what ifs.”
What do you do for fun in your down time?
Ha- I tend to thrive on the business of being busy. I don’t have much downtime by choice. The things I enjoy most are making my felt floral pieces or spending time with my family! I also enjoy looking at all the amazing inspiration that is Instagram.
Home for the Holiday’s Season Four begins in November and goes through December 23rd.
Are you a brick and mortar who wants to be featured in our Independent Business Spotlight?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re looking forward to meeting you!
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Darice was founded in 1954, by Pat Catan, an entrepreneur from humble beginnings who valued hard work and dedication. Today, Darice Inc. is a premier manufacturer and wholesale distributor in the craft industry.