Sandra Dekoning has always had a love of art and she has turned that passion into a unique artisan shop in Blandford-Blenheim Township.
Sandra spent over 20 years as a cook making sure seniors at Caressant Care in Woodstock were well fed. It may seem like a stretch to retire from the kitchen then open The Shop in Princeton: An Artisan Market, but she said it really isn’t. “My mom had a shop with her own artwork in her home in Bracebridge. She was one of the first people to make pine cone wreaths. She also painted and would try anything, and she instilled that in all of us.”
Sandra also credits her husband as a big influence in the Shop’s existence. “Mark and I always loved antiquing, craft markets, art in the park, and I had worked for so long at Caressant Care and he had kept wanting me to retire. We went to an event called “A Day in the Country” that featured stops at three different shops. I said to myself, I can do that.” She made the decision to retire and turn her husband’s shop into a store and in one month The Shop in Princeton was a reality. Mark passed away over two years ago, but he was able to see the store open. “He was just tickled pink. He had a brain aneurism four years before and was instantly retired as a result. He was going to do the back office and paperwork, and he was enormously proud of the store opening,” added Sandra.
The family connection doesn’t stop there, however, as daughter Alex moved back to the area from the United States when her father became ill and now works alongside her mother. “We have always had a really strong bond. This has just added more to it. When dad got sick, I was just moving home from South Carolina, so it was meant to be.”
The Shop boasts a wide variety of stock, everything from handmade items to soup to nuts. “We have everything from soup to nuts, literally. Bagged soups, chalk paint, clothing, vintage items like washbasins, antiques, all kinds of art, jams, honey and much more. We like to call ourselves unapologetically unique!”
Just like most businesses, The Shop in Princeton has been forced to adapt as a result of the pandemic. “Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 to 8 p.m. we host a live, online Sip ‘n Shop event selling our products and we also do local deliveries in the Woodstock and Brantford areas.” Despite the events being successful, she added that it isn’t easy to sell many of their products on a website because of how unique they are. “With one-of-a-kind items, it’s tough. Even our jewelry pieces are all different. I am looking forward to reopening so people can see things like a butter churn and an antique typewriter that is brand new and still in the box.”
COVID-19 has also put an end, temporarily, to so many creative workshops hosted by the business. “We really miss holding our workshops. Last fall we could host a few people and even had workshops outside making cement pumpkins. We have done so many different ones and we will be starting them back up as soon as we can. Our customers can’t wait to come again. It’s nice to share our knowledge and we even had a local medium come in once a month that always sold out.”
Sandra feels fortunate to be where she is right now and is thankful. “It’s lovely, especially at this stage of my life. I am 57 years old and it’s just a blessing that I was able to retire from Caressant Care and to be able to paint and do what’s passionate to me and share that with others is just wonderful. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
For more information on The Shop in Princeton: An Artisan Market, visit their website: https://www.theshopinprinceton.ca.