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When You Turn Your Hobby Into a Business...

In a society that often favors online shopping and big box stores, Jodi Scanlan has managed to accomplish something that few entrepreneurs can do. Through several years of sharing her unique, handcrafted goods at craft and vendor shows, Scanlan created such a large following that opening a brick-and-mortar store was the next logical step. It has proven to be a very successful one, at that.

In 2015, Scanlan began using her artistic talents to make handmade signs and other kinds of country decor, such as burlap wreaths, ornaments and floral designs. “I always made crafts and always liked being creative,” Scanlan reflected. “My daughter was getting married in 2016, and I wanted to make some extra money to cover the wedding. I started making things to sell at craft shows. After we got through her wedding, I just enjoyed it so much, so I kept doing it.”

Many may recognize Scanlan’s work from craft shows throughout the area, as well as the annual W.I.L.M.A. craft show held each Fall at the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds in Little Valley. “A lot of times people would ask where our store was if they wanted to get something else,” Scanlan said of the growing demand for her work. “People would want a gift, and then I was digging through totes, trying to find something. I realized it's just much easier if I have place that's set up where you can stop and you can look and see what you want.”

Scanlan’s husband built her a 12-foot by 24-foot shed right next to their home, which is also located near Scanlan’s other business, Schubert Enterprises, on Route 353 between Little Valley and Salamanca, which she co-owns with her brother, Randy Schubert. There, they make commercial signs, banners, shirts, vinyl decals and more. However, Scanlan’s most creative work - her handmade signs and gifts - are beautifully displayed in her newly built store, Rustic Originals, just a stone’s throw away.

“It’s a country rustic building, and it’s got a little porch on it, which I love,” Scanlan explained. “It’s all done in barnwood on the inside, and it’s heated, plus ceiling fans, track lighting and country rustic decor have really made it just perfect for what I needed.”

One of Scanlan’s most in-demand items are her handmade signs, which she makes with the help of her husband. “My husband cuts the signs, and I stain them. I have all kinds of signs with several sayings in the store, but if people want something special, they just tell me,” said Scanlan. “I work up a proof and send it to them. Sometimes it becomes a new sign in the shop, and sometimes it's just an original!”

In addition to Scanlan’s signs, wreaths, ornaments and other country decor items, her friends have contributed their own unique items (and talents) to Rustic Originals. “I have friends who make cards, soaps, bath bombs and other wooden pieces,” Scanlan listed. “Most everything is handmade, including the winter mittens made with recycled sweaters that are fleece-lined. They go really fast - people really like them!” Scanlan’s store also carries a variety of dip and dressing mixes, as well as Rada cutlery, coffee mugs, candles and more.

Since December 1, when the store first opened, Rustic Originals has enjoyed lots of foot traffic, and Scanlan looks forward to watching the business grow. “I plan on having the store change with the seasons,” she explained. “ I'm going to be taking down the Christmas items, building new things and always changing things. This spring, there will be items for the garden and porches to decorate. We're doing furniture pieces coming up here soon. We're always thinking of new stuff to make!”

The store, located at 5111 Route 353 just over the hill from Ellicottville, is open Wednesday through Friday from 3-9pm and Saturday from 10am-4pm. Customers can follow Rustic Originals on Facebook or call 716-257-2565 to learn more or to set up an appointment to shop outside of their regular business hours.