Local Artisans' Work Finds Home in Hopwood
Eidemiller, Maryann Gogniat, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Nearly 30 artists and fine crafters have their work for sale in a new shop in Hopwood, but it's more than the typical consignment arrangement.
It's a new venture for the Fayette County board of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a worldwide organization that provides direct aid to people in need, and that helps them "to eliminate the causes" of their need.
Vincent's Gallery, which opened in May, answers that mission statement in two ways.
"It helps people to help themselves," said society executive director Roy Sarver.
Some of the artists are elderly or have a low income and rely on their arts and crafts for supplemental income. The gallery gives them an outlet where they can earn 75 percent of the sale price. The rest of the money goes back to the society for its emergency programs for people who need help with housing, food and paying utility bills.
Sarver said this is the first such venture for St. Vincent de Paul in Western Pennsylvania. It had its beginnings when the board attempted to sell artwork and fine crafts at the thrift store in Uniontown.
"We soon realized that the public's perception of selling these hand-crafted quality items in this venue cheapened their perceived worth," he said.
The solution was to find another location that would not have the society's name, and that would appeal to customers with discretionary income. The board's choice was the former Speedway Hotel, an early 20th-century red brick building along the well- traveled Route 40.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam, a young French student who was inspired by the work of St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th-century priest who ministered to the poor, the sick and the imprisoned in France. There are more than 875,000 members worldwide.
The society in Fayette County opened its first thrift shop in Uniontown in 1991, then opened a used furniture store in Republic in 2005.
"We didn't want to disassociate ourselves from the society but we didn't want to give people the impression that this is a thrift shop," said Stephanie King of Uniontown, a volunteer at the gallery.
King said the gallery has the support of the Hopwood Village Project, a group of citizens who promote the village, and it fits in well with the charming atmosphere of the historic National Pike.
"People are blown away when they come in here," she said. …