Minnesota’s Oldest Craft Co-op Celebrates 45 Years

Northland Uncovered: Northwoods Pioneer Gallery and Gifts

CASTLE DANGER, Minn. – In a little shop along the North Shore dozens of Northland artists and crafters display their passions.

“There are some forms that are kind of lost. Like, we have a lady that does tatting. Most people don’t even know what tatting is,” said Mabel Tarlton, President of the Board for Northwoods Pioneer Gallery and Gifts.

Northwoods Pioneer Gallery and Gifts has been around for nearly five decades.

In fact, this group is the oldest, continuously operating craft co-op in the entire state of Minnesota and got its start at the base of the Silver Creek Cliff.

“When the Minnesota Department of Transportation upgraded the road system and created the tunnels we were obligated to move,” explained Tarlton.

Located in Castle Danger, these creators have a mission of always bringing local work to their customers.

“I think there’s a lot of people that really appreciate handmade items and strive to purchase items that are made in the United States, and it’s even better to have it locally made,” said Tarlton.

All of the work presented in the shop goes by the board for approval and Tarlton says there’s something there for everyone, “They’re looking for something that’s unique that they cannot buy in a big box store and we have many of those items here.”

Many artists showing their inspiration is taken from Lake Superior and landmarks that feel like home.

“It’s the pull of lake and the pull of the North woods,” said Tarlton.

Tarlton says it’s those qualities keeping the artists working and the shoppers coming back.

“It’s been here for 45 years, I would certainly hope that in another 45 years it’s still here providing unique and interesting handmade items,” Tarlton said.

The gallery is hosting an open house Saturday, July 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate 45 years.

The shop is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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