The Craft Gallery has a rich history spanning more than five decades. When asked to describe what the shop carries, owner Carin Hanna emphasizes that it’s “work produced in the U.S. and Canada.” The product most popular among customers is jewelry, but people are also very interested in pottery. One line they carry, from Stellar Studios, features crystalline glaze. “It is beautiful and colorful with organic crystals that grow in the glaze,” says Carin. “It is fully functional and reasonably priced. We also feature MOVA Globes which spin continuously, powered by the light. These are magical.”
In the late 1960s, Carin and her husband at the time, Gary Geyer, co-owned The Geyer Gallery, a fine arts gallery in Capitola Village. Then, she was faced with a unique opportunity. “Many of the storefronts in the village were empty for two reasons. Malls were opening and pharmacies, hardware stores, etc., were moving out of the village,” says Carin. “Also, because the sand had washed from the beach, visitors were not coming to the beach,” she adds. In 1969 Carin had the chance to open a store selling handcrafted gifts and home decor. She jumped on it, opening the Craft Gallery, and hasn’t looked back.
The Geyer Gallery closed in the early 1970s. Over the years, Carin has moved the Craft Gallery twice. The second time was in 2011 after the village experienced major floods when she moved to the current 209 Capitola Ave. location. Another part of the shop’s history: in the late 1990s she opened a second store, the Craft Gallery Annex, right next door (207 Capitola Ave.). “It has a great selection of paintings, photography, and mosaics featuring scenes of Capitola.”
Today the Craft Gallery has nine employees, including Carin’s daughter and 24-year-old grandson who both work in the store.
Carin’s favorite pastime outside of the gallery is bicycling with her husband, Glenn Hanna. “We love to ride through Arana Gulch and visit The Buttery for their coconut macaroons. We also ride out to Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel and then out Cherryvale. It’s a nice ride with little traffic,” she adds. “We also have a 20-mile look through the Aptos Hills stopping at Aptos Coffee Roasting for their macaroons— sense a theme here?”
Active Community Member
Carin has served as a Board member of the Capitola Village and Wharf Business Improvement Area (BIA) since soon after the BIA’s inception in 2005. She helps the BIA raise money for various causes like the Salvation Army, the Angel Tree Project (part of Twin Lakes Church, which benefits children of incarcerated people in Santa Cruz), and Second Harvest Food Bank. Other roles she has served: President of the Capitola Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Capitola Begonia Festival Committee, and member of the Capitola City Council.
The roots of giving back run deep in Carin’s family. “I grew up in a household of volunteers. My mother started the non-profit Vista Center for the Blind, and I have been on Vista Center’s board and assisted in their fundraising efforts.” She had her first volunteer job at age 15 at the Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto and has been volunteering somewhere ever since. “Santa Cruz County has amazing nonprofits that support every aspect of life and I have been lucky to have the time, as a self-employed person, to be able to volunteer.”
Values that Craft Gallery Embodies
There are a few things that have always been important to Carin in her business. First, “…excellent customer service. We offer things that aren’t very common these days: free gift wrap, special orders, and layaway.” Next, she is focused on her staff members’ well-being. “I treat my employees well and give them the best possible benefits. Also, employees have the opportunity to make enough to live in this county. Several have worked in the shop for over two decades.” Lastly, she prides herself on providing an outlet for the work of Santa Cruz County artisans. “We recently took on an artist that does amazing mosaic work on surfboards. Now if that’s not Santa Cruz, what would be?”
Carin loves what she does and loves the products that surround her at the Craft Gallery. “I should be anxious to retire but I look forward to going to work every day,” she says. “There is so much talent in Santa Cruz County and around the country. Almost every day I see something new, either online or in person. Even if I can’t add it to our selections, it’s fun to discuss marketing options and try to help the artisan with their quest to make a living from their art.” Customers are also part of the fun, she says. “Often, they are on vacation or enjoying a day with friends or family. Our goal is to add to the positive experience.”