Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.
“It’s a really cool concept,” says Kim Culin.
“We bring people in for a class and then they will look around and see what these other vendors have to offer, or vice-versa, someone will come in for coffee, and not realize we do paint classes there.”
The Co-Owner of The Work Shoppe says the idea came together when looking for a space to host painting and art nights for adults.
“My business partner, Kari Campbell, and I had spent years doing birthday parties at home for our kids and we decided that it was time to offer different kinds of classes for people in North Bay,” says Culin.
“We started off doing adult paint nights and different crafts. We also held our classes in different venues like Dinner is Served or New Ontario Brewery, but we also felt like we needed our own space to do that.”
Culin says the cost of high rent meant they couldn’t find a commercial space on their own.
“We decided to bring in other local vendors and that’s how it evolved. We are supporting them by giving them space, while in turn, they support us to make sure we can have a space to do those parties and classes a few times a month,” says Culin.
Culin says the other vendors in the space are also small business owners.
“We looked at people who were really just getting their business started because that’s who we were at the time,” says Culin.
“Initially, we reached out to people that we saw on Facebook marketplace or anyone that was selling a product that appeared to be good quality. We had them come in and meet with us and we had to really build some trust right away because we were hoping that they would support us in this crazy idea. We didn’t know a lot of them, but they really shared the passion for our dream and came aboard.”
There are over 60 local makers in the shoppe now and Culin says they offer a bit of everything from body care products, to sewing, to pottery, to consumable items such as honey, home baking, and dog treats.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve seen the need for a place like this in North Bay,” says Culin.
“A lot of people ask ‘other than Facebook marketplace where can I sell my stuff?’ and this gives them a place where it can be seen on a daily basis.”
Culin and Campbell both work full-time jobs outside of The Work Shoppe.
“I’m a court transcriptionist and Kari is a pharmacy technician and so we really have no experience in running a side business,” says Culin.
“This was supposed to be our fun part-time side project, and it's evolved into a lot more at this point!”
Both women are also mothers and say that aided in how they were able to shape their business.
“We wanted to be able to provide something for people to do with their friends that wasn’t going to the bars for fun as we were passed that stage of our lives,” she says.
“As a mom, we would want to have a night out once in a while, but it was tricky to find things in town that were affordable and that could be good clean fun. It’s an alternative, and you can book us for all kinds of events from bridal showers to baby showers or just a fun night out with friends.”
Located at 406 Lakeshore Drive in the Nipissing Plaza, Culin says they are proud to be business owners in West Ferris.
“We have a lot of positive comments about the fact that we are in the West Ferris area, we both grew up in this area and so it was just a natural choice for us to put our business there,” says Culin.
“It’s a place where we feel safe and comfortable and we love being able to support Ferris and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Culin says with no business background, they have spent a lot of time researching ways to make that side of the whole operation work.
“We are figuring this out as we go,” she says.
“But we’ve applied for and received grants to help us run the business side of things. We got set up with an accountant here in town to help us in that area. It really has come together through a love of doing these art projects themselves and it’s learning about how to perfect them and a willingness to teach other people the skills.”
Culin adds, “It’s something that we can do for fun as well. We’re moms and we work full-time and so some of these nights are just nights out for us also.”
The Work Shoppe is approaching its two-year anniversary this October and Culin says it has been a crazy ride to this point.
“We were actually closed more than we were open during the first 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles that we never thought we’d have to endure and I think that if we found a way to survive those first two years through everything that has gone on in the world, then hopefully we continue to get that community support that allows us to stay here for a while,” says Culin.
And to celebrate that two-year milestone, Culin says they are hosting a special event.
“We have two-year Anniversary Market coming up on October 1st. We'll have vendors set up in our parking lot from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and there are more vendors than just the ones in the Shoppe that will be there to support us.”
The Work Shoppe puts out a monthly calendar that shows when they offer different classes and drop-in sessions.
Culin says, “We also have drop-ins for kids and people are welcome to contact us anytime, we are flexible and accommodating and open to new ideas.”
Culin says she and Campbell are proud of what they have been able to accomplish, not just for themselves but for other small business owners in the community.
“It’s a really big family and that was our intention, to make it feel like a community in there.”
If you have a story idea for the “Rooted” series, send Matt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org