“I was thinking a big purple llama would stand out on the highway,” chuckled Carol Inkster of Emo, referring to a possible sign for her new store, The Purple Llama, which is scheduled to open there March 1.
But she isn’t going to purchase the purple llama sign until her business becomes established in its location beside The Corner Closet along Highway 11/71.
“For so many years, people kept telling me ‘You’re so talented. You could do so many things,’” Inkster recalled while also joking that making money is not one of those things.
But over the past few months, she decided to set aside her inhibitions and “go for it.”
The store not only will feature Inkster’s homemade goatmilk soaps and lotions, but also many other products “made, grown, or produced in Northern Ontario.”
“It won’t be all local products, but that’s definitely going to be the focus,” she said, citing the use of consignments to help her keep the store running financially.
“I just can’t make enough to keep the store on my own,” she stressed.
Inkster indicated a local woman has offered to provide beautiful pottery.
“She makes replicas of pottery found at the [Manitou] Mounds,” she said. “She can do anything from ancient native pieces to ultra modern.”
The store also will feature beeswax candles (and possibly honey), jams, moccasins, beadwork, painted glass, ceramics, western-style blankets and jackets, and woodworking.
“There are so many talented people in the district without an outlet for their work,” Inkster remarked. “I think there will be a pretty good variety.”
Inkster’s store also will feature her handmade knitted products—made from the fleece from her llamas, llama/alpacas, and merino sheep. She also will take custom orders.
“I’ve been spinning [fleece] for about four years,” she remarked, noting she picked up most of her knowledge from the Internet.
“I’ve always wanted to try it,” she stressed. “I have a passion for textures and colours.”
Inkster will have her spinning wheel set up in the store, as well as her antique sock knitter. “So even if people aren’t looking to purchase something, they can always pop in and see how [the machines] work,” she noted.
She believes there is some demand for the natural fibre clothing. “They are good for farmers and loggers because they stay warm even when they’re wet,” she explained.
When Inkster decided to look at locations for her business, a friend suggested she talk to Colleen Vennechenko, owner of The Corner Closet, because there was an open space in that building.
“She was pretty encouraging,” noted Inkster.
“I think it’s going to be great,” enthused Vennechenko. “We’ve started advertising—putting flyers in bags [at The Corner Closet].”
The interior will be decorated in an antique style, with most of the pieces coming from Inkster’s own home.
“It will be something else people can come have a look at,” she said. “And it should provide a warm, homey atmosphere.”
Inkster hopes the business will take off because of the unique, good-quality products. “It’s something different and Emo could use something different,” she reasoned.
Inkster has done a lot of farm work in the past and has never taken on an endeavour quite like this.
“It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever done, so I hope I don’t make too many errors,” she acknowledged. “I hope it works out.”
The Purple Llama will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., starting March 1.