TRAVERSE CITY — Sanctuary Handcrafted Goods owner Christie Minervini was named one of the Top 10 Retailers to Watch at the inaugural Retail Renaissance awards, part of NY NOW.
“It is the largest buying show for retailers in the U.S. It’s specific to hand-crafted, housewares, lifestyle, home,” Minervini of NY NOW. “It’s a two-time-a-year show.”
The show, held in New York City, draws 25,000 independent retailers and 2,300 vendors from around the globe.
“Recognition is rare in our industry, so this is pretty cool,” Minervini said of being included in the list.
Other Top 10 Retailers to Watch include the owners of: CW Pencil Enterprise in New York City; Bellocq tea company in Brooklyn; Becket Hitch home goods in Maryland; Click! home goods in Seattle; Clove & Creek home goods in Kingston, New York; Alchemy Works home and lifestyle store in Los Angeles; Radnor furniture and home goods store in New York City; Grove 1.2.1 boutique in Byrn Mawr, Pennsylvania; and pucciManuli toy store in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
Minervini launched Gallery 50, in the East Mercato inside Building 50 at Grand Traverse Commons, in 2004. She is married to Ray Minervini, Jr., of the Minervini Group, which redeveloped the former state hospital into the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. She rebranded the shop to Sanctuary Handcrafted Goods in 2017. She credits previous work experience with her retail success.
“I worked for Traverse Magazine for five years prior to opening the gallery,” Christie Minervini said.
“I worked in outside sales and marketing. I was able to look at stores that were successful, and the kind of things that they were doing right. I was also able to learn from the mistakes of the businesses that I was working with that were struggling. It really gave me a great education.”
NY NOW Buyer Relations Manager Amy Lowenberg said in a release that Minervini was part of the Top 10 for her dedication to the retail industry and her forward-thinking and creative vision.
“She is helping to shape the future of retail,” Lowenberg said.
NY NOW’s Retail Renaissance program began a couple of years ago to identify trends and opportunities for retailers to shore up their business and grow their business in the age of online marketing.
Minervini experimented with selling handcrafted goods online, but it proved to be a losing proposition.
“We don’t sell online,” she said. “I tried that years ago, 2008 to 2012, it was really hard for my kind of business to sell online because so much of what we have is hand-crafted or one-of-a-kind.”
Sanctuary Handcrafted Goods has a website, www.sanctuarytc.com, but Minervini uses it mainly to show the broad selection of goods offered in the store: gifts, jewelry, interior accents, nearly all handmade.
The shop also offers books and cards to fill out inventory.
Part of the shop’s marketing strategy involves the “Meet Your Maker” campaign. It’s intended to use artists’ backstory to help sell their goods. The campaign’s name is not intended to directly reference religion.
“It’s not.” Minervini said. “But because the name of the store is called Sanctuary, and a lot of people have a religious connotation with that, it tied in well. Whether you’re a designer or an artist, you’re all makers of these hand-crafted goods.”
Minervini is writing a book reflecting on her 15 years of experience in the retail industry. “Retail Resuscitation,” scheduled for release in late 2020, is intended to be a small retailers’ guide to building a brand, crafting a customer experience and staying competitive in the age of Amazon.