By Ashley Cooper
As an ambitious, yet free-spirited college student attending RIT, Lynn Allinger stuck out from the crowd in that her interests weren’t exactly in tandem with her female contemporaries at the time. Allinger had been enamored with collecting old furniture, refurbishing it, and essentially turning it into a work of art.
“I wanted to learn how to do repair work on the furniture, so I signed up for a woodworking class-an unusual thing for a woman to do in that time,” recalls Allinger.
The instructor of her class, Gary Stam, would eventually become her husband.
Together, the pair evolved into a dynamic duo: Stam and Allinger set forth on the open road-woodworking accessories carved from exotic wood in tow! They frequented craft shows across the nation, and broadened their passions for woodworking into handmade crafts and jewelry.
Allinger says she and Stam were in the midst of a bike ride when first setting eyes on the old Victorian firehouse located on University Avenue: Engine Company No. 6. Planted along the ARTwalk route in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts, it was the ideal location for the couple to put roots to their longtime dream to own a storefront and showcase the finest products of the American craft movement.
Craft Company No. 6, having surpassed its 25th year, is one of the most celebrated landmarks of Rochester. It continually ranks #1 in Niche Magazine’s “Top Ten Craft Galleries in the USA.” Allinger is humbled to hold the title, but works hard to ensure customers experience something unparalleled as they browse through nine rooms of treasures untold. It truly stands out from the rest as Allinger and Stam invited local artist Michael Chiazza to dress up the store’s exterior with a bit of pizazz and a dash of color.
Customers will follow an interior brick road as they enter the store and find themselves surrounded by some of the results of the most creative local talents! Craft Company No. 6 features a plethora of handmade jewelry-a product line that Allinger is especially proud of. Guests will also be tempted to peruse through the handcrafted furniture, and peek inside the cabin Stam willfully built in the middle of the store!
“We love hearing the ‘ooh’s and aah’s’ when people come in. They love the ambiance, it’s really unique. What I find most rewarding is seeing the customers find something they will cherish. I also love working with the artists, and with our dedicated staff,” says Allinger.
Though they’ve since relocated to the house on the left-hand side of the store, Allinger and Stam did once reside in the store-which explains the kitchen guests will spot when passing through on their shopping ventures. Aside from culinary supplies and gourmet foods, the kitchen shelves are fully stocked with Screaming Mimi’s award-winning salsa.
Customers might also be greeted by a party of four-legged friends. Allinger says her six rescue dogs that lounge on store premises unmistakably “have a fan club of their own.”
Allinger and Stam are no strangers to the wayfaring life. They began living in an RV in the 80’s, but have since fulfilled yet another lifelong dream: a bus conversion. The couple refurbished a retired large-scale bus, which they have now called “home” as it is their place of residence while they stay in North Carolina in the brisker times of year. Keep your eyes peeled because HGTV has recently filmed Allinger and Stam’s bus conversion and will be featuring it on their show “You Live in What?” in January 2013.
When Allinger is not gracing the happy trails or making customers smile in her beloved craft store, she can be found gardening or of course, snuggling up with her furry companions.
Please visit http://www.craftcompany.com. Be sure to keep a look out over the holidays for some exotic, handcrafted ornaments-sent from nations around the world. This is the only time of the year in with Craft Co. No. 6 will carry international items, with the exception of Canada.