Stuff. Where does it all come from? It’s like dust – it’s everywhere! Though its origins seem murky.
Wildenhain collector Bob Johnson bought his “stuff” – the Frans Wildenhain pottery – either directly from the source or at Shop One.
Shop One, one of only two retail stores in the entire nation exclusively selling crafts at the time, was the innovative business venture pioneered in Rochester by Frans and three colleagues.
Ron Pearson and Jack (John) Prip, both metalworkers-silversmiths-jewelers, and woodworker Tage Frid joined with Frans in the venture in the early 1950s.
First, and briefly, located on Ford Street in downtown Rochester, within six months they had outgrown the venue.
Moving to 77 Troup Street, a couple of blocks over, they set up shop on the second floor of a carriage barn behind a big Victorian mansion.
Remember the Mickey Rooney – Judy Garland movies where the kids decide to put on a play? “Yeah,” one kid would invariably say, “We can use Dad’s barn for our stage.”
Nice idea, right. For amateurs. And kids.
From all accounts, that seemed to be the impetus for Shop One.
And who among you is willing to front the money for the venture?
The four partners dug into their own pockets. They devoted part of the store’s floorspace to a workshop for Pearson and Prip. The rest was given over to retail display space and a kitchen.
Sell crafts. At retail prices. At a time when people’s idea of “crafts” was popsicle stick sculptures and metal ashtrays hammered in molds at summer camp.
Jeepers! This took nerve.
But for serious collectors – including those like Johnson who didn’t yet know they would become serious collectors – Shop One was Hot Set-Up.
There, on Troup nearly across the street from RIT’s Student Union, under one roof, customers could indulge themselves to a handcrafted object produced by the guy across the room.
And if what was on display didn’t suit your fancy, the guy would make you one that did.
With the “stuff” one could accumulate. Or decorate. Or, as did Robert Johnson, collect.