Robbinsdale resident Lisa Garty has made her dream of opening an art gallery and gift shop come true.
“Wunderkammer,” (German for wonderful pantry) is open for business at 4101 West Broadway Suite B, Robbinsdale.
After leaving her job as a contract manager, Garty began to seek advice from the Minnesota Worforce Center, where she learned to focus her strengths and passions.
“I was tired of sitting at home feeling sorry for myself and I love looking at art,” said Garty, an artist herself. “I thought, ‘I would like to have an art gallery.’ Something inside of me thought it would be really cool to have, and I couldn’t have thought of a better venue.”
Garty set her sights on a building in Broadway Court in Robbinsdale’s historic downtown. Though she has a background in business, she wasn’t sure how to run a small business necessarily. City Manager Marcia Glick introduced Garty to Rob Smolund at Open for Business, an organization that exists through the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers to help small business owners.
“He liked my idea, but he didn’t know if it was going to work – if I was a true entrepreneur,” Garty said.
After writing a business plan and checking out what other businesses were doing in the area, “Wunderkammer” began to take shape. Garty wasn’t going to back down from her dream.
“I’m not a quitter,” Garty said. “I’m very tenacious.”
To open her business, Garty needed to come up with front money. She was able to secure grants from the consortium and through Vocational Rehabilitation Services at the Minnesota Workforce Center. She cashed out her 401K to help fund her business as well. However, she was still about $5,000 short.
After weekly chiropractic adjustments and sharing her stress over coming up with the funds, Garty’s chiropractor and her husband offered help.
“They got help starting her chiropractic business, and she said it was her way of paying it forward,” Garty said. “I’m so exceedingly blessed.”
Now that “Wunderkammer” is open, Garty will do her best to help pay it forward by offering local art students and artists of all mediums showcase and sell their work.
The walls will be adorned with paintings, photographs and drawings of people with whom Garty has come in contact. Shelves and glass cases will be filled with earrings, pottery, scarves, bowls and plates, cards, claymation figurines and much more.
“I want my store to be an extension of the learning process for students and children to learn that art is not a dead end,” Garty said. “As a child, growing up, the opportunity for me to grow wasn’t there and I want to provide an avenue for young people and young artists to have a venue where they can learn. You learn how to paint and throw pottery in school and do arts and crafts, but what do you do after?”
Over the years, Garty has made connections with local artists by vising art galleries, going to farmer’s markets and by being a student herself. Garty will finish her degree in Fine Arts from North Hennepin Community College in spring 2014. Many of her acquaintances will sell their work at “Wunderkammer.”
Pieces of work will be featured from Free Arts Minnesota, an organization that helps kids that have been traumatized and use art as a form of therapy.
Garty has work from a family of three in her store that ranges from handmade feather earrings to photographs to 100 percent recycled crayons in various shapes.
“I interview all of the artists. I want them to be hard-working,” Garty said. “They are almost my family. As time goes on and I continue making connections, I hope to get more young artists and students in here who are being taught. I want to help them.”
Knowing first-hand how difficult it is to be an artist and a business person, Garty understands it can be difficult to pursue your passion and is hoping her store can help other local artists like herself.
“I just thought, ‘I have nothing to lose,’” she said. “I’ve heard that if you’re doing what you really love, you don’t work a day in your life, and that’s what this is like.”
If you go
“Wunderkammer,” 4101 West Broadway, Suite B, Robbinsdale. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and occasional Sundays.
Contact Anna Woodwick at firstname.lastname@example.org