Island Books & Crafts opened for business in December of 2010. Our plan was to sell good quality used and new books, along with items created by Michiganders, hence the ‘& Crafts’ in the store name (one definition of craft: an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skill.). “Island” in the store’s name refers to the fact that this area is indeed an island, with the Sault power canal separating it from the rest of the city.

We started out with about 1,500 books and 3 artisans. Today, we have over 10,000 unique book titles and over 170 artisans and crafters selling their articles in the store. The crafters are from all over Michigan, though the majority is from the Eastern U.P. The variety of items is great, from the decorative to the practical: jewelry, photographs, furniture, pottery, dishcloths and pillow cases, paintings, unique rock, wood and pine-needle bowls, mirrors, frames, clothing, mittens and hats, afghans, candles, note and greeting cards, metal works and more.

Over the last few years, we’ve also worked on getting the resources to restore the building to its original beauty. With the help of a grant from HUD/MEDC, work began in 2015 removing years of paint from the limestone façade. This year all of the windows in the building have been replaced. When removing the boards that covered many of the windows, we discovered leaded glass prisms, some of which were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Since the building was built 5 years before electricity was available in the Soo these prisms were designed to reflect outside light into the building. The bank needed light so was open 9-3 hence the term ‘banker’s hours’.