If Michele Fanfair-Steury’s funky clothes don’t brighten your day, her spunky personality will.
Michele says she’s “married into Goshen” because she moved to the Maple City after her husband, Paul, got a job at Goshen College’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center in 2000. Michele later became the college’s director of student activities, but left the position to pursue something closer to her heart.
Since October 2001, Michele has run The Gift of G.A.B. (Goshen’s Alternative Boutique), a downtown storefront filled with a mosaic of colorful garb, one-of-a-kind jewelry and eccentric decor. Many of the items in the shop are made or refashioned by Michele or other artists.
… I do want people to have an experience here …
While clothes are a main part of the store, the store is also filled with a variety of art and other fascinating pieces. Looking for artist-made decorative robots, vintage suitcases or an original lamp to brighten up a room? You’ll probably find it at The Gift of G.A.B.
“I am a hoarder,” Michele said with a laugh. “You have stuff to chose from.”
The store’s inventory has continuously changed over the years; when other stores start carrying something similar, Michele changes it up, always wanting to offer something different than anywhere else.
But The Gift of G.A.B. isn’t just about selling clothes and decor.
“I do want people to have an experience here,” Michele said.
“ … you’re supposed to give it away to other people and let them become what they will become with it …”
Several months ago, Michele started Wearable Art Wednesdays, where she invites anyone to join her in creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or accessories in a fun, laid-back atmosphere at the Gateway Cellar Winery, just down the street from Michele’s store.
“So often as artists or crafters or whatever you want to label yourself, we get ourselves locked into this philosophy mindset that we shouldn’t share what we have for fear that someone is stealing it, taking it,” Michele said, but that’s not how Michele sees her work.
“This was a gift given to you and you’re supposed to give it away to other people and let them become what they will become with it,” she said about herself.
Michele has loved teaching people to learn different skills and can share stories of helping people get started with jewelry and years later carrying their work in her store.
“The Gift of G.A.B. has been a blessing because that’s how I’ve made some of my best friends,” she said.
As long as it isn’t too cold, the door is usually open to the street at The Gift of G.A.B. with vibrant racks of clothes standing in the sidewalk, enticing people to meet Michele and check out the treasure trove that awaits inside.
“So … we get ourselves locked into this philosophy mindset that we shouldn’t share what we have …”
“This was a gift given to you and you’re supposed to give it away to other people and let them become what they will become with it.”
“The Gift of G.A.B. has been a blessing because that’s how I’ve made some of my best friends.”
“I do want people to have an experience here.”