Introducing The Local Hand Shop + Gallery: A place for local artists to do creative things

Michaela Flatley puts up a temporary sign in her Ashmont retail space where she will open The Local Hand Shop + Gallery on May 7.

Ashmont Hill resident Michaela Flatley will be living her dream on May 7 when she opens The Local Hand Shop + Gallery in a retail space on the ground floor of the Carruth Building.

A credentialled, accomplished artist, Flatley said she was sick of “working from home every day in her sweatpants” but thought that having her own store was out of reach.

“The concept is something I always dreamed of doing if I won the lottery,” she said. “It turns out you can maybe do it without winning the lottery. I saw these vacant spaces at Ashmont, and I talked to neighbors, and they wanted to have a place for gifts and art.

“In my friend circle,” she noted, “many of them are buying houses around here and wanted some great artwork for the walls that wasn’t from TJ Maxx. There aren’t a lot of options if you don’t have $20,000 to spend.”

Local Hand will focus on local artists and makers, stocking things like pottery, jewelry, hand-made baby clothes, greeting cards, pillows, candles, and soaps. Also, the store will rotate the work of visual artists from the local community every eight weeks – complete with opening and closing receptions.

The Local Hand Shop + Gallery will open in the Carruth Building on May 7. Dorchester resident Michaela Flatley, a painter and graphic designer, wants to put the work of local creators in front of local customers in a wide range of price points.
Seth Daniel photos

Flatley said the store will have a range of prices, from small things for $5 to something “very nice” for Mother’s Day. “There is no shortage of people creating here and doing amazing things, but there’s just a shortage of places to show it,” she said.

After the opening, she said, she will have space blocked off for on-site workshops and begin offering classes from local crafters and makers.

Flatley grew up in Boston and has owned a graphic design business for six years. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting while living in Baltimore. In 2020, she and her husband returned and settled on Welles Avenue, where, she said, they knew it was where they would put down roots.

“We very much felt this would be our forever neighborhood; we are in it for the long-term with Dorchester,” she said.

She hopes to empower friends, neighbors and other creators from Greater Boston and Massachusetts to have a place to sell their things. She also wants neighbors to be able to get unique items and gifts without having to go online or drive outside of Dorchester. Part of her desire is to get local creators in front of local customers.

“People want to buy things that aren’t on Amazon,” she said. “I do, but I feel I spend so much time and energy trying to avoid Amazon. If a friend has a birthday, I either have to order something online or go to another neighborhood…A lot of these things may be made by people you know in the neighborhood.

“Some things will be made by people on my own block,” she added. “Other artists might come from other neighborhoods or from places like Waltham. But I can’t imagine buying goods from a vendor in California that doesn’t know what this neighborhood is like.”

Flatley said she already has 14 vendors lined up, and more than 50 percent are people of color – with a focus on recruiting a diverse group of makers that reflects the neighborhood. While she likes making spreadsheets and enjoys numbers, she notes that the best part so far has been interacting with the vendors. She said it has been uplifting to make purchases or offer the space for shows.

“Telling them I have a place to show work or that I want to buy 20 pieces of pottery from them - that’s a part that makes me feel so good as an artist myself, and a new business owner, because I know how those emails and calls feel like,” Flatley said.


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