Ed Wendell
Feb 19, 2014 | 640 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the past 20 years, March is celebrated nationwide as Arts & Crafts month. The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society is honoring this celebration with a presentation by Michelle Cook-Lopez, proprietor of Cook’s Arts & Crafts Shoppe, 80-08 Myrtle Avenue in Glendale.

The presentation will take place next Wednesday, February 26, at 1 p.m. at Emanuel United Church of Christ, located at Woodhaven Boulevard and 91st Avenue. Admission is free. (Please note that the WCHS is also hosting a slideshow presentation called “Queens: Then & Now” at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 24, at Neir’s Tavern & Steakhouse, 87-48 78th Street.)

Cook’s Arts & Crafts Shoppe (cookscrafts.com) is a family-owned small business that has an interesting history. Cook’s grandfather Wilbur began the business from his truck in the 1950s, which he used to drive around Woodhaven, Glendale and Richmond Hill, repairing televisions and radios.

He eventually moved into a storefront, where his wife Virginia would wait on customers and knit and crochet in her spare time while her husband repaired electronics.

“People would start asking her, ‘Could you teach me how to crochet? Could you teach me how to knit?’” Cook said. And as people began replacing televisions and radios instead of repairing them, the crafts business began to take over the shop and it was renamed and established as a craft shop in 1970.

“It started with just yarn, but it blossomed from there,” Cook says. “We brought in beads, macramé, paint supplies, and more.” Indeed, you could spend hours getting lost inside Cook’s Arts & Crafts Shoppe, and you’ll most certainly walk away with great ideas for fun projects.

In addition to being a great supplier of crafts, Cook’s Crafts also holds a variety of classes. For example, they have one-on-one classes available for beginners called Knitting 101 where your first project is a scarf.

Another class is Crocheting 101 where you can learn how to create a Granny Square. The class is just over two hours long and includes all the materials you need.

They also have project classes where you can learn to create various hats, shawls and scarves, and classes can be customized to fit your project desires. Cook also hosts group meeting a few times a month where hobbyists gather and knit and crochet together.

“It’s a social thing,” she says. “We have everyone from beginners all the way to advanced, and we sit around and we talk and show off what projects we’re working on and we have fun.”

As a small business owner, Cook recognizes the challenge that a tough economy and large chain stores present. But Cook’s Crafts has the advantage of being a small business that knows their customer base and their needs exceptionally well.

“We can better customize and cater to our customers' needs,” she explains. “Our customers like and appreciate the personal response we can offer.”

When you walk in to Cook’s Crafts and deal with Cook, you are also dealing with someone who is an expert in her field. “I was born into this shop,” she says. “I’ve been here and around crafts my entire life.”

“Cook’s Crafts was one of my mother’s favorites,” says Assemblyman Mike Miller. “She used to go in there all the time. They’re also very active in the community. Michelle and her father are very active with the Glendale American Legion, Post 104.”

Cook’s Crafts has also been a supporter of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, as well as other organizations and events in Woodhaven. We’re looking forward to seeing Cook at the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society meeting this month and hope you’ll stop by to say hello.

And if you can’t make it, a visit to Cook’s Crafts is well worth a trip across the park to Glendale. You’re guaranteed to find items that will spark your creative juices.

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