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South Porcupine store filling a void, crafting a community

'It’s just a different atmosphere and we love community, so that’s always what we’re trying to build'
Marcus Niebler and Julie Evans, the owners of Craft Magic

A new store in South Porcupine is crafting a community through . . . crafting!

Craft Magic, owned and operated by Julie Evans and Marcus Niebler, opened in December selling various crafting essentials and hosting introductory workshops in knitting, macrame, crochet, and more. They also own Escape from Reality, located just down the street, which is an escape room and gaming store. 

“We’re both gamers but I am a hardcore crafter, and when we moved up here originally we were so happy because there was a Home Depot for him and a Michaels for me. But when we got up here the Michaels was gone, and since then it felt like some stuff was missing in town,” says Evans. 

Evans and Niebler lived in southern Ontario before settling in Timmins five years ago and previously ran another escape room business in Stratford. 

“We were looking at a couple of locations and the bank became available for a great price, so that was a bit of a win and we came up and we loved it. We love the community, we love the people, and we had every intention of staying so we figured why not put down better roots?” Evans says. 

Eventually, the couple decided to open Craft Magic to fill the void left behind by Michaels. Evans says that while there are still other craft stores in town she is not looking to compete, but rather to form partnerships with them.

“I think it’s possible for stores to exist and support each other rather than fight each other. What we keep hearing from a lot of the residents that have been here a long time is that South Porcupine used to be a very vibrant town. You can tell where the stores used to be, and now they’re all residences. We thought we could revive the downtown a bit if we started to bring more things that are fun to do,” Evans says.

“It’s just a different atmosphere and we love community, so that’s always what we’re trying to build,” she says.

“We’re building community more than we’re just building a business,” Niebler says. 

The community response to the store, and especially to their workshops, has been overwhelmingly positive. Evans says that the classes are often filled the same day she posts the schedule, and that she has had to add more workshops per month to keep up with demand. 

“We want to make sure people have a good foundation and new skills. I’m teaching a lot of basic classes but starting to add in a couple of mid-level classes, and I’ll keep increasing that as time goes on,” Evans says. 

“As people get more experienced I want to do more unique things like having them come in for a day and do a whole big project versus something small that can be done in a two-hour window,” she says.

The community has provided plenty of input on what kind of classes they would like to see and what products they want to buy in the months since Craft Magic opened, which Evans has taken into consideration when deciding what to stock in the store. She hopes to be able to partner with other local crafters to offer other unique workshops, like painting. They also vary their class times to allow more people to be able to fit them into their busy schedules.

“We want to really be community-minded, to grow with the community and not just do anything I want to do but also what we can do to support them,” Evans says. 

Most of the current workshops cost around $15 for an hour-and-a-half-long class, just enough to cover the materials. 

“I don’t try to make money on the classes, I try to make sure that they get a taste of what it is and that way if they’re interested, I know that they’ll come back. But I try to keep them fairly inexpensive,” Evans says.

For the summer, Evans and Niebler are hoping to offer full-day workshops for bigger projects, as well as social nights. 

“A lot of people have asked if we’re going to be in the craft shows anymore, and unfortunately I have weekend hours so the answer is no. But what I love is that through this community of people that come in and shop in my store, I’m still in every craft show,” Evans says. 

“It’s lovely. I was able to sneak out to one recently and I could see some of my crafters and they were showing me what they were making with the yarn they bought here. It’s really nice to see that full circle,” she says. 

For more information and to see monthly schedules for workshops, visit Craft Magic’s Facebook page

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Kyra Butterworth

About the Author: Kyra Butterworth

Born and raised in Timmins, Kyra is a lifelong writer and lover of all things creative. She received her Bachelor of Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University
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