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Indiana Daily Student

Local entrepreneur fosters artistic community in Bloomington

<p>Gather is located across from the Monroe County Courthouse in downtown Bloomington. A retail gift shop, Gather showcases emerging and independent handmade goods, according to its  website.</p>

Gather is located across from the Monroe County Courthouse in downtown Bloomington. A retail gift shop, Gather showcases emerging and independent handmade goods, according to its website.

A square of local shops and restaurants that surrounds the Monroe County Courthouse lies in the heart of Bloomington. Gather Shoppe sits on Walnut Street facing the courthouse.

The shop features an assortment of locally handcrafted jewelry, children’s toys, stickers, gift cards and more. Talia Halliday, entrepreneur and owner of Gather, knows the artists behind every product.

Halliday entered the handmade business about twelve years ago, when she started selling handmade leatherwork through the Bloomington Handmade Market, a craft show that occurs twice a year. Although she formed bonds with the other artisans and participated in organizing the event, she aspired to do more. 

“I felt like the handmade market could happen more than twice a year,” Halliday said. “It could happen every day.”

Because she built a community of artists and customers in the handmade market, she grew confidence that Bloomington would be able to handle her new business. 

“I think that Bloomington is a particularly artsy town, and they’re always looking for things with a story, things that are made well, things that can help the local economy, and that’s what handmade does,” Halliday said.

Allie McHaley began her career as a social worker, with a side hustle of selling her handmade jewelry with skills she had gained from participating in Halliday’s jewelry-making workshops.

About three years ago, McHaley decided to pivot to art and joined Gather’s team about a year and a half later. She said her favorite part of working there is getting to know the community that supports them.

McHaley admires how Halliday has the awareness and consciousness to be inclusive of all people. 

“I do feel like she’s created Gather to be, like, a safe haven for folks of Bloomington for artists and customers alike,” McHaley said. 

McHaley sells her own wearable art in Gather.

The pandemic forced Gather to close for two months and knocked down sales by 40 percent. This also created uncertain conditions for opening her newest business, Oak, but Halliday sees a silver lining in the hardship.

 “It’s been heartwarming to see the support that we’ve gotten from our customers that have been with us for the past seven years and watch them come here and really, really try to support us,”Halliday said.

A first-time customer at Gather, Tammy Money said she was drawn from the doorway because of the plants and the scenery. As she admired the merchandise in the shop, she said she enjoyed the music and scents and that there’s a lot of interesting stuff she had never seen before.

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