Travel out of Rochester toward Pine Island, and soon enough you’ll reach a paper crafter’s paradise.
Firefly Farm will celebrate its three-year anniversary in June -- but owner Trisha Studer’s journey with crafting started much earlier -- around 18 years ago. When Studer’s kids were smaller, her friends convinced her to give scrapbooking a try. She was hooked. Scrapbooking at home soon led to DIY projects and hosting crafting retreats.
And once her eldest left for college, it was time to give the shop a shot, and put her personal crafting goals on hold.
“This is my new baby,” Studer said.
She spent five years searching for the perfect location, and says she and she knew the minute she drove down the driveway that she had found it. The store is visible from Highway 52, tucked up among trees on the sprawling property -- just the environment she wanted for a future retreat house.
The 12-acre property’s retail store used to be a residential home. Now it’s rooms upon rooms upon rooms of scrapbooking and card-making products, DIY projects, unique gifts, fun kitchen items, seasonal decor, and -- of course -- glitter.
And that’s not even counting the lower level, where even more supplies, and a space for a variety of classes and events, reside. In just the last two-and-a-half years, Studer says the class space has seen nine traveling guest designers from all over the U.S. (and England!), as well as several local teachers. Keep an eye online for classes on scrapbooking, card-making, mixed media, Copic markers, DIY wood decor, and calligraphy (and much more)!.
The store took a good year and a half to fill entirely, Studer said. And they have new shipments arriving weekly -- if not daily.
It’s paid off, though, Studer said. Other than Big Box, there are no stores devoted only to paper crafting in the Twin Cities or Rochester, where much of her customer base resides. And, of course, plenty of SE MN crafters find their way to the farm as well.
Earlier that day, Studer had helped a Rushford mother-and-daughter pair who’d made the hour-long drive specifically to shop from her store.
While some of her customers are only able to visit a few times a year, she says, the majority of them come back often to stock up on new crafting supplies and gifts. Many of those repeat customers (201 of them!) are “Farm Girls,” members of Studer’s customer rewards program. The program costs $99 for the year, and comes with perks, discounts, and a tote bag (to fill with crafting goods, naturally).
“They understand the value of shopping local, that if they want hands-on events ... knowledgeable help, new product, and quality product, they want to spend their crafting budgets here and support us,” Studer said. “Not online or Big Box stores”
The store is very much geared toward card-makers and scrapbookers, but Studer also wants all women to be able to find goods there.
Take those Rushford customers, for example -- the daughter bought tons of crafting supplies, while her mother took home items from the Farm’s collection of kitchen implements and home goods.
“I am so lucky to have the support of wonderful friends, family, staff, and customers,” Studer said, “and the store is a happy place for so many people --including myself!”