by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Audrey Trubshaw sets up her display of shell wreaths and other crafts at Pegs Gift Box, set to reopen May 3, for Milwaukie's First Friday. Nikki Hoff organizes her jewelry and scarves; her mother, Betty Hoff, makes beaded toe thongs, a popular item at Pegs Gift Box.Mother’s Day is 11 days away, but the women at Peg’s Gift Box, a little shop in downtown Milwaukie, are ready to help shoppers find the perfect gift for mom.

The store is only 8 feet by 14 feet, but the interior is stuffed full of a variety of hand-made crafts and “upcycled” goods, made almost entirely by residents of Milwaukie or the nearby area.

“We’re an impulse shop, where something might strike your fancy,” said Margaret Tarbox, who goes by Peg.

The shop bears her name, which she insisted was only because she has the shortest name. Although she balks at being called the store manager, she admits she is the one who keeps the store on track.

The shop first opened in June of 2012 and is open only for First Fridays and during the Milwaukie Farmers Market, since those are the two events that generate the most foot traffic, Tarbox said.

This year the shop opens May 3 to mark the year’s season-opening First Friday event and also will be open May 12 for the start of the Milwaukie Farmers Market. The shop will throw open its doors for every First Friday and farmers market, through October.

Cooperative effort

Peg’s Gift Box mostly features the work of 10 vendors, who work as a cooperative to run the store, Tarbox said. All the decisions about what to carry in the shop are made by the vendors, she said, adding, “We take turns staffing it.”

Most of the goods are made by women, and women make up most of their customers, Tarbox said, though men do come in when they need a special card or gift.

One side benefit of Peg’s Gift Box is that the shop has brought together a group of women “who knew each other in clumps,” Tarbox said. Then they brought in others, and now all the women know one another and share crafting tips and new materials, she said.

Another plus factor is that prices are reasonable, said Audrey Trubshaw, one of the vendors who makes pet portraits on apparel, shell and cork wreaths, and catnip cats.

Variety of crafts

Nikki Hoff, another vendor, makes scarves and jewelry, but also brings in beaded “toe thongs,” made by Betty Hoff, her 94-year-old mother. They sell quickly, she said, noting that grandmothers often come in and buy them for their granddaughters.

Mary Davis, a Southeast Portland resident, uses vintage or vintage-inspired fabrics to make tote bags and soft goods for the kitchen, like tea towels.

Birdhouses perch on tall shelves in the shop, made by Ray Harris, the lone male crafter in the bunch, Tarbox said.

Items for babies include Bonnie Simonson’s baby bibs and receiving blankets, along with Nancy McIntyre’s baby booties. Simonson also produces fabric wall hangings, fold-up shopping bags, wallets and tooth-fairy pillows, while McIntyre also makes cards and scarves in vibrant colors.

Esther Teerman uses her photographic skills to make cards, some of which feature Milwaukie scenes, Tarbox said.

One-of-a-kind kaleidoscopes by Missy Lipe and Helen Wirtz’s wreaths and sunburst wall ornaments also are featured items in the shop.

“We all had stuff we were making and want to keep on making, and now we have a distribution system,” Tarbox said, noting that she contributes children’s picture books from her collection.

Peg’s Gift Box also functions as a sort of community clearing house for local activities, she said, adding that people often come in with posters and postcards for upcoming events.

For now, the shop is at “full capacity,” Tarbox said, but vendors are welcome to come in, show examples of their work and leave their cards.

Fast Facts

What: Peg’s Gift Box — a local craft co-op

Where: 2035 S.E. Harrison St., between Main Street and 21st Avenue, in Milwaukie

Hours: 4 to 8 p.m. First Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays during the Milwaukie Farmers Market

Info: Featured items include gently used children’s books, cards, crafts, jewelry, pottery, art, needlework and photography.

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