The Craft Loft-St. Clair is no longer in the upstairs of The Chocolate Harbor’s building in St. Clair.
Instead the creative studio and gift shop can be found at 1919 Fred Moore Highway, where owner Danielle McLaren is working to finish unpacking boxes.
“I love it, it’s exciting,” she said. “It’s been fun to see the vision come together.”
McLaren moved into the building at the beginning of August and has been getting ready to open since, with a soft opening held last week and a grand opening planned for October, though she is still working on details.
The building on Fred Moore Highway has been vacant since last November and was formerly a PKSA Karate studio. The Craft Loft-St. Clair’s hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., McLaren said.
She has been thinking about moving for some time and initially inquired about the space in February.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Once that happened the process slowed, but McLaren needed more space. She could only have four people safely social distanced in the upstairs of The Chocolate Harbor, “which was very tight.”
“I just needed a little more space for everybody,” McLaren said.
She has more than double the workshop space for painters and has more space for her studio’s retail section as well, which is important as people want safe options where they can spread out.
There is room to paint six feet a part and have one or two people per table. There are masks and hand sanitizer available and McLaren is disinfecting tools after people use them, she said.
McLaren said she was surprised by the response when she started booking parties at the new space and booked 12 parties in one week.
“People are definitely interested in getting out together,” she said.
Darci Vargo-McGuire, who owns The Chocolate Harbor in St. Clair with her mom, Mary Vargo, said they will miss McLaren in the building.
But they understand why she wanted to move to a bigger space and one-floor building, as McLaren would have to carry heavy loads upstairs before.
The Chocolate Harbor only uses upstairs for some storage and for right now, with the pandemic, they’re not sure what they will do with the space.
“It’s all up in the air,” Vargo-McGuire said, and “we’re just kind of going with the flow.”
She thinks McLaren will do very well in her new location and it’s a good step for what she wants to do.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea and concept she has,” Vargo-McGuire said.
Brianne Distelrath, St. Clair resident and a “frequent flyer” at The Craft Loft-St. Clair since it opened about four years ago, said the location at The Chocolate Harbor was small and quaint, but limited the size of the party you could have.
She has been to the new location and “it’s huge,” so people don’t feel like they’re on top of each other and it’s easier to see the retail McLaren has to offer, she said.
Distelrath was shocked when she walked in and saw all the hard work McLaren had done in a short amount of time. McLaren has an amazing following of people and now she can broaden the scope of clients who come into the shop, she said.
“We can still do this through the pandemic and still do what we all love,” she said.
Contact Bryce Airgood at (810) 989-6202 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.
This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Creative studio and gift shop The Craft Loft-St. Clair moves to new location in city