Gifts for discriminating givers

The Village Tinker brings slice of England to Maryville

Are you searching for that perfect gift? Have you racked your brain trying to come up with a housewarming present for the new neighbors? And what on earth are you going to give your niece for her fourth birthday?

One visit to a new shop in Maryville, The Village Tinker, may answer these questions and give you a chance to pick up something for yourself, too.

The Village Tinker, located at 417 W. Broadway, opened recently in downtown Maryville and features unique gifts, many of which are handcrafted by local and regional artisans.

“The main goal is to offer treasures that are unique,” said Joanna Tinker, who manages The Village Tinker.

The shop, which is two doors down from Pokey’s, has been a dream for the Tinker family for years. Betty and Andy Tinker, Joanna Tinker’s in-laws, lived oversees in England decades ago when Andy Tinker was an exchange officer with the British Army.

In England, the couple enjoyed the interesting and unique shops and said they always wanted to open their own store and call it “The Village Tinker.”

When the store near Pokey’s, which they also own, became vacant, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to live their dream.

“The whole family has had input,” said Joanna Tinker. From the store’s light fixtures to furniture placement and to the items selected to be a part of the inventory, the Tinker family has made the project a family affair. Joanna Tinker said her 5-year-old nephew even helped her pour through catalogs and offered his opinions about what he liked and didn’t like.

The store was renovated with Robert Galyon serving as the project manager. Betty Tinker said Galyon is the one who suggested a stacked-stone fireplace with built-in display cases. Another eye-catching feature of the store is the lighting fixtures. Betty Tinker said they purchased them from Walker Supply when they were moving their inventory to another showroom. The different styles of each fixture not only brighten the store, but also lends to the ambience.

“I’m excited to see downtown rejuvenated, and it’s exciting to be a part of it and to make a positive impact,” said Joanna Tinker.

The Village Tinker will not only make an aesthetic impact, it will affect local artisans whose work is featured at the store. Name cards are placed by items so customers will know who created the one-of-a-kind pieces.

“We want to make it constantly fresh,” Joanna Tinker said. She said they would be rotating items featured and sold in the store. “We have artists in waiting.”

The Village Tinker also features some of the Tinker family’s artwork. Andy Tinker’s hand-turned pieces have been popular. In a matter of days, the hand carved nativity scenes were sold out. Andy and Betty Tinker’s daughter, Sahra Tinker Ratledge crafts rope name wall hangings that are displayed and sold at the store.

“We try to have a variety of things,” Joanna Tinker said.

Earrings, necklaces and bracelets by artist Lois Armstrong are featured. The designs are handcrafted scrimshaw-etched jewelry and are made from old piano keys.

“We have lots of options for jewelry,” Joanna Tinker said. They also feature unique amber jewelry made from tree fossil resin that shimmers and shines in the light.

Debbie McMurray’s hand-dyed fabric wall hangings and purses are also featured at The Village Tinker. Like a lot of the items for sale at the store, the wall hangings and purses can be custom made to suit the customer.

“We offer monogramming and engraving for corporate gifts, too,” Joanna Tinker said.

Children gravitate to the far corner of the store where toys blocks, alphabet trains, puzzles and beautiful tutus are displayed. The tutus, which come with a wand and a headpiece, are handmade designs by Porter Elementary teacher, Jessica Ernsberger.

The Tinkers said future plans include completing the renovations in the back of the building so art classes can be taught. Also, plans include an art gallery in the hallway next to the store.

“Our goal is to have something for everyone,” Joanna Tinker said.

The Village Tinker is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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