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903 Handmade: Crafting Dreams In Downtown Tyler

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By Johnny Griffith

East Texas has always been home to a strong community of artisans and crafters who take their creativity and pour it into a creation of some sort or another. Typically the only outlets for these “makers” has been festivals, Canton Trades Days, or online. Starting this year, however, a new store in Downtown Tyler opened, and the makers as well as buyers of artisan made merchandise couldn’t be more excited.

903 Handmade is a local brick and mortar storefront catering to merchandise, as the name might suggest, handmade by small batch artisans as opposed to large scale production. The brainchild of Kristy and Nate Norman, 903 Handmade is an extension of their inner creativity and a collaboration with artists from the East Texas area as well as all over the country. Both transplants to the area, Kristy and Nate have embraced the area as their own, and it’s truly a family endeavor as they rotate between working the store and shuttling kids to competitive sports or activities as they integrate family and work.

We caught them in between activities recently and managed to get a moment to talk about what 903 means to them and what’s going on Downtown:

Johnny: So let’s start with a bit of background for you guys. Who are you, and what brought you to the area?

903: Kristy grew up in Texas, in the Mesquite area, and moved to East Texas (Lindale) when she was a senior in High school. Nate grew up in Michigan and moved here about seven years ago with Target. Kristy went to college at Stephen F. Austin State University and got her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Art. Nate went to college at Central Michigan and got a degree in Business and Marketing. We met about a year and a half after Nate moved to Texas through mutual friends. We’ve both always had a drive to do something on our own and saw this as a perfect way to do so.

We have three kids: Sophie (15), Camden (13), and Levi (14 months). We want the store to be part of our kids lives and want to help teach them what it’s like to work for something and give them the skills they need to go out and work in the community.

Johnny: Why the name 903 Handmade? What’s the significance to you?

903: Once we knew we wanted to open the store, we had all kinds of different names and variations. We wanted something that helped say who we are in the name. Both of us came up with this same name, and when we talked, we both brought it up. 903 being the area code and pairing that up with “handmade” fit.

Johnny: When did you first get the craft bug?

903 Kristy: I’ve has always had the “craft bug;” when I was growing up, my mom always made things, so it’s always been a part of what I do. In 2010, I started making jewelry as Lou Cs Designs. Making hand formed and hand stamped charms, bracelets, and necklaces. I’m excited to have an outlet and to see people enjoy my work!

903 Nate: I started making things with my Grandfather. My grandma and grandpa would make wooden crafts and travel around to shows. When I would stay with them, I always loved the fact that I would get to work with my grandfather in his shop. In fact, we have not been able to park a car in our garage for several years now because the shop has taken over most of the area.

Johnny: At what point did you start to get the idea that this could be more than a hobby?

903 Nate: It’s been a dream of both our ours for several years. We’ve talked about it for a long time, but never took a leap. Kristy was doing a show in Tyler with Lou Cs Designs and ended up being next to Aristeo with El Guapo Records. She started talking with him during the downtime and shared her dream of having a store with her jewelry and also other makers. He was about to open his store and told us we had to come check out the spot next to him. Shortly after that I went and looked at the location and thought it was great. One Sunday I told Kristy to get our son, and we were going for a ride. I took everyone to the store. After about two weeks of thinking and going back and forth on it, we called the property manager. We spent several hours in the store and finally made the decision to go for it. The rest fell into place.

Johnny: What was your family’s reaction when you decided to open a brick and mortar?

903 Nate: Our family has been very supportive. Kristy’s mom is one of our makers as well as her sister-in-law. Not only that but they help us a lot with the store and our kids.

Johnny: When did you officially open?

903 Kristy: Our first day open was February 10th. We spent almost a month getting displays, building a pallet wall, and meeting with makers for inventory. At the beginning of February, I told Nate that we were going to open on the 10th. It was a lot of very long days working to get everything set up to make it happen. Since we’ve opened, we’ve continued to add on new makers and items.

Johnny: How was the response been so far?

903: The response so far has been awesome! We get new people into the store almost daily, and they all have great things to say. We’ve both heard several people say they are happy to see something like this, and they are excited to see what is happening Downtown.

Johnny: Do you just showcase your own creations or you collaborate with other local artisans?

903: Both of us have items in the store, but we also have items and collections from makers local to Tyler/East Texas, makers from around Texas, and from around the country. Our goal is to find quality makers both locally and around the country. A little over half of our makers are from East Texas and the Dallas area.

Johnny: What type of things can be found at 903 handmade?

903: We carry quality handmade items from baby clothes made from vintage t-shirts and sweatshirts, burp cloths, teethers to leather and canvas handbags/purses. We even carry a maker from Dallas that uses nothing but recycled materials to make bottle openers and glasses. We have a little something for everyone.

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Johnny: What has been your proudest moment so far with 903 Handmade?

903: There have been a few. First is being able to work with some awesome businesses in the Downtown area. Everyone has a vision of what we all know it can be. Seeing things like the Off the Square Block Party come together and being able to team up with other small businesses has been awesome. Secondly, we want to support the community that has been supporting us. We just did our first event teaming up with Royal Family Kids and Teen Reach Adventure Camps to help raise money for them. We had a whole day where a portion of sales went to their ministry. Lastly, was a couple of weeks ago when we were at a makers fair in Dallas. We were talking to some makers and telling them who we were, and several of them already knew us. Neither of us really thought anyone outside of Tyler knew anything about us. It was both humbling and very rewarding.

Johnny: What’s on the horizon for you and the store?

903: We’re working on getting a website for the store where we can sell online as well as in the store. Right now we just have a small store on our Facebook page but would love to expand this. We’re so thankful for the support so far with only being open for three months, but possibly down the road we’ll look at expanding to a larger store or even possibly a second location. Right now our focus is on making sure our current location and store is filled and continuing to bring in new makers and items.

Johnny: When a new customer walks through the door, what’s the most common reaction?

903: We hear a lot of how they love seeing a store like this with handmade items. They’re happy that we did this, and they can help support makers and also local makers.

903 Handmade is located at 253 S. Broadway. Downtown Tyler, (903)630-7823, www.facebook.com/903Handmade and on Instagram.

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Downtown

Dinosaurs are Back at Discovery Science Place!

Return of the Dinosaurs This Summer at Discovery Science Place

Discovery Science Place (DSP) is located at 308 N. Broadway Ave., Downtown Tyler. DSP is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1-5pm, and closed on Mondays. Summer Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1-5pm.

Tickets are $8 for adults (ages 13 and up), $6 for children (ages 2-12), $6 per person for seniors (65 and up), $5 per person for active military (must provide ID), and children under 2 are free. For more info call (903)533-8011 or go to discoveryscienceplace.org.

Return of the Dinosaurs, Coming This Summer!

Come walk among the dinosaurs again as DSP’s celebrates its 25th anniversary! Take your picture riding a Triceratops or braving the jaws of a T-Rex. See two Protoceratops guarding their nest or view the long-necked Apatosaurus. View actual fossils along with animatronic models of the “terrible lizards” of long ago.

“Return of the Dinosaurs” is featured in the DSP Annex building next door to the main museum building. Tickets are purchased at the main museum front desk (under the green portico) and exhibit entry is on Broadway under the blue awning.

“Return of the Dinosaurs” is a separately ticketed exhibit. Ticket prices are: $8 for adults ages: 13 and up, and $6 for children ages: 2-12. Current DSP members get in for 1/2 price ($4 and $3). Children under 2 are free.

You can view actual fossils along with animatronic models of the “terrible lizards” of long ago. The exhibit runs June 9th-August 19th.

Summer Camps at Discovery Science Place

8 weeks of camps are planned, from June 11th-August 10th. Each week has a different theme, and campers are divided into two age groups based on school grade: entering 1st-3rd grade, or for students entering 4th-6th grades. Every camper this summer will also be able to tour the exciting summer 2018 traveling exhibit. Camps are from 10am-4pm each day, and extended programming is available from 7:30am-5:30pm.

The cost is $175 per week per camper with a 10% discount for DSP museum members. Cost includes a snack and all camp materials each day, but campers will need to bring a sack lunch. Camps are:

June 11th-15th: Vex Robotics 1

The Discovery Science Place will fill with the sounds of whirling wheels and motors during this robotics camp. They have upgraded to Vex Robotics and are excited to see campers build claw bots and tackle new challenges! This camp is limited to 15 per class.

June 18th-22nd: Make: Create

Curious makers will want to sign up for this camp! During the week children will learn about the design process, then apply those ideas to bridges, buildings, fog cannons and more.

June 25th-29th: Mad Science

If it bubbles, oozes, or pops, campers will give it a try during this camp. Young camper scientists will make slime, rockets, and more. Campers need to be prepared, because science can be messy!

July 9th-13th: 3D Modeling featuring Minecraft

Everyone loves Minecraft, and campers will put that knowledge to good use by transforming their Minecraft designs from the digital space to the real world using 3D printing technology. This camp is capped at 15 students per class.

July 16th-20th: Vex Robotics II

The Discovery Science Place will fill with the sounds of whirling wheels and motors during robotics camp. They have upgraded to a new robotics system, and are excited to see their campers build claw bots and tackle new challenges. This camp is limited to 15 per class.

July 23rd-27th: 3D Modeling featuring Minecraft II

Everyone loves Minecraft, and will put that knowledge to good use by transforming their Minecraft designs from the digital space to the real world using 3D printing technology. This camp is limited to 15 per class.

July 30th-August 3rd: Take Flight/ Make it Move

This exciting week lets campers explore various forms of flight, from airplanes to rockets, as well as learning the basis of movement and flight. Rockets will launch, planes will glide, cars will loop-de-loop, and more.

August 6th-10th: Kitchen Chemistry

No Summer camp at the DSP would be complete without Kitchen Chemistry week. Nearly all the activities done during this week can be replicated at home with parent help. Campers will make slime, learn about cooking with solar power, and create paint using vegetables and spices.

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Around East Texas

June 22nd-23rd: 10th Annual Tyler Coin Show

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For more events and to add your events for free, go to EGuideMagazine.com/calendar.

June 22nd-23rd – 10th Annual Tyler Coin Show will be held at Harvey Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. Friday, June 22nd the show will be 12 noon-5pm and Saturday, June 23rd 9am-5pm. There will be coins, currency, tokens, gold and silver on over 50 tables. They will do verbal appraisals and there will be door prizes, educational displays, and more. For more info call (903)570-3136 or email ucce@hotmail.com.

July 4th (8am-11pm) – Smith County Freedom Ride and Festival 2018 – This free event will feature fireworks, hotdogs, drinks, watermelons, kids, pets, hot-rods and motorcycles, and there is no better way to celebrate the 4th of July on a Wednesday! Come out, celebrate our freedom, and honor all those who serve at this Independence Day festival and ride. Downtown businesses will be open to the public. Public will vote on “Smith County Most Patriotic Ride” and “Smith County Most Patriotic Hotrod” from 12 noon-4pm. The Independence Day Ride will begin at 5pm to the clubhouse to the free firework show at dark. Everyone in the community is welcome to join in on the fun. For more info go to facebook.com/events/129556567877651.

July 29th (12:30-4:30pm) – Bridal Expo with East Texas Bride focuses exhibitors, bridal fashion presentations, grand prizes, and fabulous fun. This is sponsored by All American Party & Tent Rentals, Complete Weddings & Events East Texas, and Fantasy & Fairytale Floral Designs. There will be grand prize giveaways that include The Landing at Joshua Farms offering a fabulous Saturday Package valued at $4500; Bella Sera Ranch offering a Friday DIY package for 150 guests valued at $2695 (excludes December); Old Omen Guest House “Event Day Free” for 150 guests; Eagle’s Bluff $1800 venue package; Venue 31 Events $1,000 in event rentals; Fantasy & Fairytale Floral Designs offering Floral Package valued at $1,000; Complete East Texas Weddings & Events offering DJ, Video, and Photography Packages; Lisa Gallant Photography Package valued at $1,200; Simply Beautiful Flowers & More a $500 Floral Package; Nichole Beth Photography $500 Bridal Session; The Barn at the Silver Spur Cabin overnight stay. Don’t miss this wonderful summer bridal event. Register for reduced tickets for $8 online and secure your bride bag and your Symbolize It gift card. Tickets at the door are $10. This will be held at Harvey COnvention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler.

Ongoing Events

Hit the Bricks: 2nd Saturday Downtown Tyler (Second Saturday of each month, 12 noon-10pm) – Get out and about on and off the square where Downtown businesses will be offering fun events all day long. There is free parking in the Fair parking garage. Rain or shine, Downtown Tyler will be the place to be every second Saturday. For more info and a full list of events go to visittyler.com/secondsaturday or find Hit the Bricks on Facebook. Dates are: May 12th, June 9th, July 14th, August 11th, September 8th, October 13th, November 10th, and December 8th.

Canton First Monday Trade Days Market is held Thursday-Sundays. What started more than a century ago as a flea market has become home to some of the most exciting, cutting-edge home furnishings, antiques, and collectibles that can be found anywhere. For more info call (903)567-6556 or go to firstmondaycanton.com. Dates are: May 3rd-6th, May 31st-June 3rd, June 28th-July 1st, August 2nd-5th, August 30th-September 2nd, September 27th-30th, November 1st-4th, November 29th-December 2nd.

Free Yoga Saturday (9am-12:30pm) – Every 3rd Saturday of the month, beFree offers a free day of yoga. You don’t have to sign up ahead of time but you can if you’d like to, and there are no catches – just free yoga with the beFree instructors in their beautiful and healing studio space. Check the schedule to choose any class on that day that you will most enjoy at befreeyogatyler.com. beFree Yoga is located at 212 Old Grande Blvd., Tyler, (903)630-6142, befreeyogatyler.com.

Every 4th Thursday, April 26th, May 24th, June 28th (6-10pm) – Geek World Paint Night – With all the excitement around games requiring models, Geek World has had a few of the communities best painters offer to lead a free painting night the 4th Thursday of every month. Bring your painting projects and get your questions answered plus learn some new tricks and techniques. This is free to attend and all painting supplies will be 10% off during the event and 20% off special orders. Geek World is located at 410 WSW Loop 323, Tyler, (903)363-9751, geekworldconsignment@gmail.com. Geek World also offers nightly tournaments, game nights, all day Commander games, Friday night magic, and many pre-release sneak peek events.

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Family

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Set to Perform, August 3rd

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Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir set for August 3rd Concert at Oil Palace

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is coming to East Texas for a concert at The Oil Palace on August 13th at 7:30pm.

The 270-member Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is directed by Carol Cymbala, the wife of Pastor Jim Cymbala. Made up mostly of church members without formal vocal training, over the years the choir has received  five Dove Awards and six Grammy Awards. The choir has performed at Billy Graham Crusades and the 2012 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.

After nearly thirty years of recordings and live performances, Carol and the choir continue to rely on the Lord for his grace and direction in their ministry. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is a highly unlikely group of people, a mixture of ethnic and economic backgrounds, in the heart of a city synonymous with coldness and decay. Made up of doctors, attorneys and former street people, nurses and ex-crack addicts, the choir is a unique cross section of humanity. Pastor Cymbala explains “None of us would have met if it weren’t for Christ. Our backgrounds are just too diverse. But all of us have one thing in common: we have all been lifted up and changed by the power of Jesus Christ. So the choir sings, not about a mere theological doctrine, but about what has happened to them. It’s not just the lyrics of a song; it’s a reality to each of them.” Starting each rehearsal with prayer reinforces that principle as the choir asks the Lord to bless their music and anoint their songs for the services.

“After the $2 million renovation of The Oil Palace, we made a decision that we were going to broaden the scope of our concerts and events,” Kevin Michael Barbaro, The Oil Palace spokesman, said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to the people of East Texas and will bring in events from around the world that will enhance the lives of the community.”

Tickets start at $15 and will be available at oilpalace.com. The Oil Palace is located at 10408 TX 61, Tyler, (903)566-2120.

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