In April 1993, a great new idea was brought to Letcher County – the idea to organize a co-op of handcrafters and open a shop where they could promote their skills and sell their crafts. The idea was met with great success from the beginning and 18 interested local citizens attended the first meeting at the Letcher County Extension Office on April 19, 1993.
The suggestion to start a craft co-op in Letcher County was brought by Ruth Shackleford from an Area Extension Council Meeting she attended with Ann Bradley. Mrs. Shackleford, who is currently Letcher County Extension Homemaker president, has remained an active member of the co-op and is involved in many community projects.
Charles Hawkins was elected chairman of the co-op board and Sharon Adams secretary-treasurer. These outstanding members have had a big hand in the success of the organization. Membership grew to approximately 40 in November, 1993, and currently stands at about 30.
A highlight in the history of the craft co-op was being featured on national television on QVC’s Home Shopping Channel. In February 1995, the co-op was one of 20 groups selected from 200 groups statewide, which had earlier exhibited their crafts when QVS’s staff visited Kentucky. Those 20 craft groups appeared on the “50 in 50 (state) Tour”. Sharon Adams represented the co-op on the program when it was televised from Keeneland in Lexington.
The co-op sold 191 handquilted and handmade wall hanging sets in 10 minutes on the air. Approximately 70 co-op members, their families and friends were involved in the completion of this exciting project. The work was done from start to finish in about six weeks. The crafters involved did all the work in their own homes and were very glad it was a “light” winter that year.
The Pine Mountain- Letcher County Craft Co-op is located at 331 Highway 119 N in Whitesburg. It has a green metal roof and is near Howard’s Carpet. The phone number is 633-0185. The shop is open Monday through Saturday, with members working volunteer hours to keep it open.
It also serves as the Letcher County Tourist Information Center, providing travelers and interested citizens with information on all local events, activities, points of interest, highway maps and brochures of all the state parks, resort parks, historic sites and national parks in Kentucky.
Come on by the shop to see beautiful handcrafts, antiques, collectibles and new and antique furniture, ideas for gifts for all occasions and other items you probably won’t find anywhere else. You will be glad you stopped in.