There’s been a lot of talk lately around Drogheda about “what this town needs.”
It can be quite controversial, between those who are fighting to get Drogheda to City Status, and those who are mad about “foreigners taking our jobs,” and those who just want to keep their heads down and not make a fuss until it all blows over.
I think there’s one thing everyone can agree on, however, and that is how much we need new business to re-energize the local population.
Take a walk down Shop Street and you’ll see one of the town’s newest ventures, The Crafty Fox. It is a very welcome splash of colour in what used to be an empty dress shop.
I’ve always found it strange that in a town the size of Drogheda, where textiles used to be such a huge industry, it is quite difficult to find the basics for sewing, knitting and crocheting. Sure, there are cheap needles and synthetic yarns in some of the discount shops, but bolts of fabric and custom buttons are practically nonexistent. I know a lot of aunties and grandmas still knit and crochet, but I also know most of them have to travel to Dublin for the day to stock up on supplies. Now, for the most part, they won’t have to look so far to find what they need, at reasonable prices and outstanding quality.
I have to applaud Peter and Jackie, owners of The Crafty Fox, for being part of only a small handful of entrepreneurs to open a business in the dark ages of this recession. It takes guts, yes, but it also takes vision and heart. You have to care enough about the people around you to try to make things better when few others can or will.
I wish I could capture just how attractive this shop is – it totally just pulls you in the door, and you can’t help but smile once you’re in. Within seconds you’re fingering gorgeous floral fabrics and hovering around the displays of glittering buttons and gems.
Shops like this are needed so much more than your typical retail stores because they inspire creativity. Instead of just going in and buying another thing, you let your brain tick away with a hundred ideas of what you might like to try, or make, or start doing again. You start thinking about the colors you like best and how easy it would be to do new couch cushions… or a quilt… or a scarf… or maybe something harder!
Another shop that gets me thinking creatively is Cake Couture, a cute little cake supply store located on Narrow West Street that opened just over a year ago. They, too, had to do a bit of convincing to get the town interested, and I’m sure there are still folks who quibble over the prices, but it’s now the go-to shop for supplies and sugarcraft classes in the whole North East! I would LOVE to see The Crafty Fox follow suit.
Now, don’t start telling me you don’t remember how to sew and you never learned how to crochet – you’ve read this far, so you must be at least a little interested by now, right? What a great way to surprise your wife or sister or mother, by taking them downtown for a coffee and dragging them into this shop for a browse. There are tiny embroidery projects starting at just €4.95 on up to kits for making dolls. There are loads of magazines and books to inspire you and if you’re still stuck, ask about their classes! What better way to spend a grey Irish winter’s day than all cozied up with a group and a bunch of yarn! (Cake Couture offers a wide range of classes as well, if baking is more your forte. Just check out their web site for more info!)
The Crafty Fox is located at 33 Shop Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth. Their website is still under construction, but you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter, @thecraftyfoxie. They also have an online business that supplies many of the same materials they stock in shop – http://www.puddlecrafts.co.uk/.
Incidentally, RTE is also doing a series on “Local Heroes,” trying to inspire struggling Irish towns to create more jobs and re-vamp their local images. Drogheda was lucky enough to be included in this program. For a taster, check out this clip on You Tube – it’s really well done.
Copyright 2011 Maryann Koopman Kelly