While it feels like it opened just yesterday, the little print/stationery/gift shop that could, Tiny Feast, is celebrating four years as an Exchange District mainstay this week. Opened in 2013 by creative/life partners Danika Bock and Drex Serduletz, the shop is your go-to for creative inspiration.
Bock and Serduletz, who came up with the idea for Tiny Feast while living in Berlin, say that placing the shop in the Exchange was a no-brainer, as it captured the European aesthetic the two design enthusiasts were going for.
“I think a lot of what you get to imagine when you’re not in ‘real life’ is the potential to bring what you see traveling back to your city, and take ownership of the city you’re in,” Bock says.
“There’s a lot of space (in the Exchange) for new ideas and new things to happen,” Serduletz adds. “Even just in the time since we’ve been open, we’ve seen places like Bronuts, King & Bannatyne, Chosabi, and Amsterdam Tea Room open, it feels like a million places. These things didn’t exist even just a handful of years ago. We consider ourselves lucky to be in this space and saw it as being available at the right time.”
While Tiny Feast went from an idea to reality in about a year, it is still evolving and growing as a business, along with its owners.
“Winnipeg in general has been supportive and the neighbourhood has been a good fit,” Bock explains. “Right from the get go, there’s been more regulars than I would have expected, which has been really nice to cultivate those relationships. In that sense a lot of our growth has been organic and that’s what keeps us going. At the end of the day it’s about numbers and budgets, but that’s not really going to keep you motivated, it’s the people that do, as cheesy as that sounds.”
Tiny Feast is filled with notebooks, storybooks, prints, pens, and pencils, and while Bock and Serduletz have backgrounds in graphic design and printmaking respectively, they admit they have had to sacrifice personal creative time to bring these curated goods to the masses.
“In terms of some of the kids books we bring in, some of the illustrators, it’s nice to find the inspiration through other people’s work,” Serduletz says. “Whether that translates into us getting a whole lot of our own work done, I don’t know, but at the same time I feel like it’s just channeling that energy differently.”
Serduletz goes on to refer to himself as a creative problem solver as a business owner, and creativity definitely goes into what Tiny Feast stocks. Each item, be it a greeting card, backpack or notebook, is hand-chosen and ordered by the pair. It’s like stepping inside Serduletz and Bock’s personal (well lit) creative closet.
“Being inspired by the work and artists that we see motivates us to do a better job, and shows how some of the products can inspire creativity,” Bock says. “Knowing that couples are letterpressing cards in their garage lets us know we’re all in it together.”
As far as prints go, Tiny Feast has sold works from local designer Ty Johnston and Montreal’s Raymond Biesinger, whose series on Canadian cities features the popular Winnipeg 1919 (pictured above).
“We personally really love it, and it’s one of the few pieces we have at home, because we don’t always want to take work home with us,” Bock says with a laugh (note – this writer also has Beisinger’s print above his fireplace mantle). “We’re coming to 2019, and things like the 1919 memorial and Little Brown Jug’s 1919 brew are really cool. It’s a really historical piece that a lot of the Exchange District is in, and there are old buildings from the neighbourhood which still exist. In his pieces from other cities, a lot of those buildings are just the idea of what used to be there, and in Winnipeg you can still point them out today. It’s one of those things you don’t realize are special until you get to know more about the reality of past and present.”
After four years of Feast, Bock and Serduletz have some goals for the future, including expanding to an online store and collaborating with like-minded people on exclusive products, but want to make clear that the store is the priority.
“It’s been a real focus of ours to have a physical presence in this neighbourhood and keep a high quality of brick and mortar, so in that sense we don’t want to water down the experiences we have in the shop by spreading ourselves too thin by going on the Internet,” explains Bock, noting that having a shop in the neighbourhood also means living here, first renting and eventually now owning a condo in the Exchange.
“Our everyday is some people’s Saturday,” Serduletz says. “They drive in from the suburbs and they go to Forth and Toad Hall Toys and wander around and admire the buildings, and we get to do that everyday, so that’s nice.”
“I get to go to Forth on my way home from work and have dinner there and I get to go to Parlour on the way to work,” Bock adds. “And while I’m helping the neighbourhood, I’m also just having a really enjoyable quality of life.We live in the East Exchange. When we bought our condo, the whole building was empty and we’d just walk around saying, ‘This would be a cool brew pub, this would be a cool restaurant, but it would never happen.’ And then it happened.”
Visit Tiny Feast online at tinyfeast.com and in person at 217 McDermot Avenue.