LAKEWOOD RANCH — The story of Stamper’s Cove, a new craft store in Lakewood Ranch, is best told through the two black tables tucked deep inside it.
These tables, as storeowner and sole employee Kathy Bixler tells you, are more than tables.
They are high-end tables, handcrafted and wooden, meant to hold a Thanksgiving turkey.
Inside this store, the tables will play host to theme crafting nights, during which female crafters will wheel their pocketed, bejeweled crafting bags into the room, whip out their materials and watch “The Bachelorette.”
They will craft, sure, but they will also talk about their pets, whose pictures will hang from a bulletin board over the tables.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom, you bought dining room tables!’” Bixler said. “The tables are the first pieces of the store I bought. Good, sturdy tables are important to my vision, where I create an environment where people want to be part of a community.”
Stamper’s Cove, a niche store for scrapbookers, rubberstampers and paper crafters, has its grand opening Oct. 5, and with it comes the perfect topper to Bixler’s life — the bun to her sandwich, she says.
Before Bixler lived the corporate life, managing sales for 15 years at Avon, she was a teacher in Sarasota County, a job she began when she was 30 years old.
Bixler left teaching for more security. Now that she retired from Avon, Bixler returned to her first passion — creating.
“I wasn’t going to sit home and eat bonbons,” Bixler said. “I love the smell of paper. If I could make it a fragrance, I would. But I had to make sure I wasn’t opening a store because it fits my hobby. It has to have the potential to be profitable.”
Bixler bets that today’s do-it-yourself culture will make her store a hit.
Stamper’s Cove sells paints, inkpads, ribbons, glitter, stamps, dyes, stains and more.
Researching the industry, Bixler traveled to a card-making convention in Cincinnati.
She dragged her pocketed craft bag there.
“Oh, everyone has one of those,” Bixler said.
She watched people at the convention: What were they buying? What vendors from which were they buying?
She quickly found the whole scene didn’t move fast enough for her; it was too casual for her ambition.
The supplies she ordered for the store, many from the West Coast, came slowly.
“Having been from the corporate world, it’s hard for me to relax,” said Bixler, who put a coffee maker next to the two crafting tables. “There is no sense of urgency with these people.”
Since she moved into the space in August, Bixler has been sitting at the tables and crafting items that now greet customers on a display at the front of the store.
This showcase features greeting cards and a scrapbooks she made herself and, also, unused clear and wooden stamps.
“I wanted to show people what a finished product can look like if they use such and such ingredients,” Bixler said. “It’s about inspiring ideas and building off each other.”’
Collaboration defines her idea for craft nights and “Crop for a Cure” events. In October, Stamper’s Cove hosts an event for people to cut and crop their photos and donate money to breast cancer.
Bixler plans to hold similar such events.
And, one day, not surprisingly, she hopes to expand.
“That’s how confident I am in this store,” Bixler said. “I always have the mindset that I’m 10 years behind.”
Contact Josh Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the owner //
Kathy Bixler recently retired as a manger for Avon, a Fortune 500 company. Before that, she taught in the Sarasota County School District, where she eventually ran its beginning-teacher program. Always a crafter, Bixler poured her savings and pension into Stamper’s Cove. She is the owner and sole employee.
Owner: Kathy Bixler
Opens: Oct. 5
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Location: Lake Osprey Plaza, 6289 Lake Osprey Drive, Sarasota
Services: Stamper’s Cove is a full-service crafting store that sells materials for scrapbookers, rubberstampers and paper crafters and hosts craft nights.