LIVERPOOL, N.S. - Melanie Rutledge saw a need in her community and filled it.
When they first moved to Liverpool, Rutledge said there was a great little gift store in town, which unfortunately closed. Missing a place to buy unique gifts and cards, combined with the amount of local talent in the area with no permanent place to showcase it, prompted Rutledge to open a gift store of Nova Scotian handmade items. The Plaid Cat Gift Gallery was born.
“There is nothing imported in the store,” she says, “and most things are unique, one of a kind.”
Currently, Rutledge says there are 43 different artists, artisans and crafters who have their work on consignment in the small store, with a couple more coming. There is a great variety of items including paintings, sea glass and pebble art, weaving, body care products, rope mats, cards, jewellery, quilts, and the list goes on, she says. Most of the items comes from the south shore talent, with a few from the Halifax/Dartmouth region. There is only one artisan doing each type of product.
“I have had a lot of talented people approach me that I have unfortunately not been able to showcase due to duplicity of product or space limitation,” says Rutledge. She has, however, started a list in case things change in the future.
When asked where the name for the Plaid Cat Gift Gallery came from, Rutledge said being a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady, the name had to have "cat" in it somewhere! The plaid, she says, is reference to the Nova Scotia tartan.
As an animal lover, the Plaid Cat Gift Gallery has a few ways you can shop at the store and help local animals. Rutledge says she started making little plaid cat ornaments to enhance the name of the store, with the money going to the SPCA. From there, two of the artists, Carla Zwicker and Emily Trim jumped on board with their contributions for the fundraising effort, making painted rocks and cards to sell. As the animals always need help, Rutledge plans to continue these projects year-round.
Rutledge is so happy to give back to the community, especially as it has been so positive towards her new business. People have been extremely helpful in spreading the word on social media and in their groups and social circles, she says.
“The ladies at the visitor information center and the other business owners in Liverpool have also been an incredible source of support by suggesting a visit to the store and pointing visitors and locals alike in her direction, as well as personally shopping in the store,” says Rutledge.
On Dec. 2, Liverpool is celebrating Christmas on the Mersey, trying to get people out and shopping in the downtown. As an attraction at the Plaid Cat, Emily Trim will be in from 10 am to 2 pm to demonstrate both wool spinning on her spinning wheel and wool felting demonstrations as she makes such things as felted animals and birds, says Rutledge.
Stop in any time to 325 Main Street, Liverpool from Tuesday to Saturday to see for yourself why Rutledge can’t possibly highlight any one item for Christmas. She says there is something for everyone and every price range!