By: Tony Zerucha
A unique new store in the heart of Transcona aims to bring the love of crafting to both young and old.
Aunt Monica’s Attic, at 201 Bond St., had humble beginnings, owner Monica Smith said. After being downsized from her last job, Smith started a birthday party business where she entertained the kids.
“I’d work really hard for one hour with the kids and we’d make a great craft,” Smith said. “Then one day a mother asked if I made loot bags and I said ‘Of course!’”
Those loot bags became more and more popular and Smith discovered she enjoyed sourcing and picking different products.
Thus she began her education as an entrepreneur, learning about wholesale traders, minimum orders and warehousing.
“My living room became a little ridiculous, as you couldn’t live in there,” Smith said with a laugh.
But she loved what she was doing and began to consider opening her own store. The space at 201 Bond became available and she took the plunge.
“Call it a planned whim,” Smith said.
“The opportunity was there and I thought that if I didn’t try it now I’d regret it forever.”
When she opened Smith knew she needed to focus on specific areas.
“I wanted to have a craft store that was geared to the customers I had at the birthday parties, which were the kids,” she explained.
“My mission statement is ‘to encourage creativity through arts crafts and active play for children and adults alike’.”
Smith carefully considered every aspect of the operation, including different product specifics.
“I don’t sell products which require batteries,” Smith said. “Solar-powered items are okay but if you sell stuff needing batteries, I believe you are obligated to sell the batteries ,too.”
The price you see at Aunt Monica’s Attic is the price you actually pay, as sales tax is factored in ahead of time. Many of Smith’s younger customers bring in their allowances and find they don’t have enough once taxes are factored in.
Smith said she has been crafting for as long as she can remember.
“I was the girl who did crafts instead of doing her homework.”
Smith honed her crafting skills through 4-H while growing up in northern Alberta and by sewing with her grandmother, whom she described as a significant influence. When she moved to Winnipeg, she studied fashion and apparel design.
“I like doing pattern making,” she said, adding her current business is perfect because she can work on her hobbies at the office.
“I always wanted to be happy for me,” Smith added. “I can walk to work.”
Smith also loves Transcona.
“Transcona is such a neat little community in that it is a community where everybody knows everybody. You leave Transcona if you can’t get what you need in Transcona.
“People like it here.”