Galesburg boutique to transition to pop-up shops, Ophiem down the road
GALESBURG — Dovetail Rivet & Stitch, a local boutique and gallery that specializes in handmade goods, will be transitioning out of its storefront at 61 S. Seminary St. by the end of this week.
Hilary Anderson, who opened the shop on Seminary Street in 2015, said she plans to continue offering some of the store’s inventory online and through pop-up shops at different venues throughout Galesburg — the next one will likely be at La Cantinita a week before Valentine’s Day.
But struggling with rising costs and decreasing sales, Anderson said she felt like it was time to make a change.
Whatever isn’t sold inside Dovetail after its last day on Saturday, Jan. 29, will be moved to a property in Ophiem, Illinois. There, Anderson will run her own personal art studio with plans to open a new shop, gallery, event and class space within the next couple of years.
Until then, the Galesburg store is open every day of the week, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A large portion of its inventory is now on discount for Dovetail’s moving sale.
Shoppers and artists have changed
Anderson, 44, first opened Rivet Boutique in 2015 next to Innkeeper's Coffee. Having studied art at Knox College and metalsmithing in North Carolina, she wanted a studio to make her own work — landscape-inspired jewelry, scarves from repurposed fabric — and a space to sell it and interact with customers.
She then bought Dovetail Arts at 61 S. Seminary St. and merged the two stores in 2016. She started selling more of other people’s art and products from across the U.S ordered almost always directly from the maker.
Anderson said operating Dovetail Rivet & Stitch has always been somewhat of a financial struggle and “never quite worked very well,” but the pandemic exacerbated challenges.
People were already shopping online, but she saw that increase and fewer people visit the shop in-person after lockdowns. Sales saw a “huge drop,” but the cost of artists’ products increased.
Needing more income, Anderson went to work for her family’s business, but that meant payroll expenses also increased because she hired staff to run the store. Dovetail now has four employees.
Further, Anderson said that she has lost a number of lines since opening, as artists have either retired or attained enough success that they stopped selling wholesale and now sell directly to customers.
When she decided to stop renting the second side of Dovetail’s storefront in the spring of 2022, Anderson started to think seriously about whether this was the right space for her endeavor. Instead of managing inventory, she wanted to get back to making and teaching art.
Overall, she said 2022’s revenue was only barely ahead of 2020. She attributed that in part to inflation and increased basic living expenses holding people back from spending on gifts. Then she noticed the 2022 holiday shopping season returned less than 2020’s.
"I couldn't believe how slow it was,” Anderson said. “And that's when I was like, ‘You know what?' I think it's time.’"
Sad but excited: ‘The right choice’
Moving forward, Anderson said if businesses like hers are to be successful, they need to offer something online stores can’t: an experience. That’s what she hopes to eventually provide at her new location in Ophiem, a social gathering space or another service other than retail.
“I'm much more aware of how people shop for themselves and others,” Anderson said. “I do know they love the story of the piece and they love that when they buy something from us, it has the artist's name on it, we can give them a card and tell them where they're from.”
Anderson said she feels sad to be leaving Seminary Street. She’s met so many great people through its doors and her employees are “fantastic.” But she’s also excited to be freed up to focus on her art.
While she’s enjoyed carrying other artists’ work, she believes it’ll be easier to make a profit offering more of her own pieces and, “in order to be happy, I need to be doing my own work.”
“All the people who have been coming in and shopping over the years have been really supportive. I feel bad to, like, take it away,” Anderson said. “But they've all been, ‘I'm sad to see you leave, but I understand and look forward to seeing what you do next.' I'm getting that message from people, so that does make it feel like I'm doing the right thing.”