LAKE PLACID -Some time last week, a group of artists from the Caladium Arts & Crafts Cooperative emptied out the 8,000-square-foot showroom that displays their work and stacked all the merchandise in the back room.
It was the time for the great annual redecorating, which the co-op calls its annual grand-reopening, done in time for the town's Caladium Festival, which this year is set from July 26-28.
For three weeks every year, a core group of 10 to 15 artists close down the showroom and rearrange everything from one end of the store to another.
The idea, explained Lee Ann Hinskey, is that when customers walk in after the re-opening, what they see is a brand new store.
Plus, it's a tradition, added longtime co-op member Chris Filip, of the artists group which three women started a little more than 20 years ago.
When the co-op re-opens July 22, customers not only will see brand new merchandise, but the display areas-arranged according to a theme --also will be in different places.
It also means things may have to be painted, cleaned and fixed, from light fixtures to furniture.
Hinskey, who is in charge of the Christmas arts and crafts area, wanted to lighten up her part of the store so all the display cases and trellises were painted white this year.
She pointed out to a bathroom display corner, which has all sorts of handmade soy candles and glycerine soaps and a makeshift kitchen counter top awaiting a hand-painted sink by Filip.
Filip is one of the co-op's two China painters, and among the things she paints are sinks, Hinskey said.
One of the co-op's more popular offerings are geared towards Lake Placid's most popular export - its caladiums.
There are key chains, polymer clay jewelry, cards and even Christmas ornaments that revolve around the theme.
"We have a lot of variety," said Hinskey of the co-op's wares, which come in all price ranges. The majority of the co-op's shoppers are looking for unique gift items, she added.
The non-profit group has about 56 member artists. They pay a membership fee and part of the proceeds from their sales go toward the upkeep of the 10,000-square-foot building.
They also have a strict policy of what they will display. The items have to be hand-made, cannot duplicate another artist's work and have to be reviewed and approved by a jurying committee, Hinskey said.
This year, they are trying to bring more locals into the store and are planning to launch a monthly events feature along with four other Lake Placid nonprofit groups that form Tour Lake Placid.
The plan is to debut Tour Lake Placid Arts Walk on the evening of Sept. 6 and the first Friday of every month thereafter.
The co-op names an artist of the month year-round.
At the Tour Lake Placid event, the artist will be recognized during a reception, and the co-op store will be kept open in the evening for people to come in, browse or just join in.
So far, Toby's Clown Museum & School plans to be open in conjunction with the event along with the Lake Placid Depot Museum and the Lake Placid Art League, a 170-member group that does everything from painting to wood carving. The Mural Society, along with the four groups, form Tour Lake Placid.
Patricia Keesling, co-president of the art league, said their member artists will hold demonstrations during the monthly Friday event.
While the hope is to attract and get the word out among the local population, Keesling said the effort also will support the arts.