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Wheeling Artisan Center Shop Reopens to the Public

Photo by Joselyn King Chris Villamagna, program manager for Wheeling Heritage, stands amid West Virginia-made glassware sold at the Wheeling Artisan Center Shop.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Artisan Center Shop is now reopened, making the tastes, words and art of West Virginia available for in-person sale to the public once again.

The Wheeling Artisan Center Shop is located on the second floor of the Artisan Center in downtown Wheeling, and is now open to shoppers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The shop closed in early March 2020 during the first stages of the COVID pandemic, but did open for a short time during the holiday season to give shoppers a chance to purchase Christmas gifts.

Chris Villamagna, program manager for Wheeling Heritage, said she has begun to order new items and schedule book signings in the coming month.

“We’re trying to get back to some normalcy in the shop,” she said. “We’re getting new things in and are starting to plan for spring and summer. Hopefully, there will be more tourists as we get post-pandemic.”

The shop features items produced by local artists and makers from throughout the region, and they come at all price points.

Offerings include everything from a $500 glass sculpture to $3 refrigerator magnets molded from coal product. There are books about West Virginia, its people and its history. But perhaps most popular are the food items, which range from honey from Wellsburg to maple syrup made in Wheeling.

“We support West Virginia artisans,” Villamagna said. “If we can help them by making their items available for more people to buy, we are happy to help.”

Artists and makers apply to have their wares displayed and sold at the Wheeling Artisan Center Shop.

Preference is given to more local producers, and to items coming from minority and female makers. But if someone in the region has a unique item that stands out it will get a look, according to Villamagna.

“We want to get everyone in, and not just be in our own Wheeling bubble,” she said.

The shop has traditionally attracted both locals and tourists, and these different types of shoppers are geared toward different items, Villamagna said.

Tourists are impulse buyers who tend to buy “most everything” offered in the shop. Locals, meanwhile, come for specific items she said.

The closure of the store during the pandemic did force managers at the Artisan Center Shop to find new ways to market items. They began placing more and more select items from the shop for sale online, and about 10 more are added each week, according to Villamagna.

“People are ordering from as far away as California and North Carolina,” she said. “We are reaching people we never thought would take a look at us.”

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