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The Cumberland Shop in Shippensburg offers local artisans and a chance to give back

Carley Bonk
Chambersburg Public Opinion

Nancy Hudson has been a pastor at the Oasis of Love Church in Shippensburg since the 1980s. This year, she wanted to find another way to give back to her community and revisit her artsy roots. 

She calls the idea for The Cumberland Shop, opened on Nov. 12, "divine inspired."

"I'm sitting on my porch one day - it was two days after my birthday - and I'm sitting there thinking about this idea, it kept popping into my mind, and it wouldn't leave," the 68-year-old said. "All of a sudden I was like, why are you trying to figure out who can do it? Why don't you do it? Now, I'm not gonna say God came down like Moses and sat there and talked to me, but I definitely felt an impression that this was going to be OK."

The Cumberland Shop, at 16 W. King St., features a selection of works from local artisans. In addition to local offerings, Hudson also sells homemade goods from Ghana to benefit the Oasis International Training Center, where she taught for years.

In addition to local offerings, Nancy Hudson also sells homemade goods from Ghana to benefit the Oasis International Training Center, where she taught for years.

The Cumberland Shop is on its way to becoming a certified non-profit and also collects items and donations for Women in Need and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

"We're just looking for every opportunity we can to continue to bring the downtown area of Shippensburg alive because it's gone through a rough spot," she said. "We've had a lot of businesses leave, and the economy hasn't been favorable to it."

Hudson has a true passion for the arts, a trait that shines through her business.

"We want this to be an incubator site, a place where we can give people a kickoff for their talents, for their businesses," she said. "We also want to use this as a training hub. Because of COVID, we haven't been able to have any classes, but we've got four or five of our artisans who want to teach ceramics, they want to teach painting, they want to teach knitting. Some of them feel like it is socially and psychologically, something that's going to be needed when this whole thing changes."

Ellen Kroepil, owner of Kaudelu, learned all about fashion at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After moving back home, she began sewing, crocheting and making jewelry.

She also has a knack for seeing the potential in others.

"When getting started, we used local artists, and local artists contacted other local artists," she said. "We personally had friends that were undiscovered talents. Our one friend is a photographer. She's done it for seven years as a hobby, but her stuff is so gorgeous. When we opened, I said, 'Judy, you're so talented. Would you consider selling your prints? Her stuff is flying off the walls. It's affordable, it's fabulous, it's local, and it was a hobby. This is something that when she retires, it's going to help her."

Locally made jewelry, woodworking, spa treats, decor, honey, hot sauce and more grace the shelves at The Cumberland Shop.

But the best-selling item so far is Hudson's own creation - Sadie's Dressing. In just three weeks, over 120 bottles have flown off the shelves.

"I have had people for probably 10 years say, 'if you don't start selling that dressing, I'm gonna steal the recipe and I'm gonna do it.'"

Nancy Hudson, 68, owner of The Cumberland Shop contributed her own creation to the shelves - Sadie's Dressing is her great-great-grandmother's recipe.

So, after getting licensed by the Department of Agriculture, that's just what she did.

"We are selling it like hotcakes," she said. "It's delicious, people are freaking out over this dressing. I would say it's sweet and sour - it's a little bit Pennsylvania Dutch. My family is from the center of Pennsylvania. It is my great-great-grandmother Sadie's recipe. My mother and my aunt have carried on the tradition of making it."

The label reads, "This recipe has been in our family for years. It's about time we share it with the world." Hudson affectionately refers to the condiment as "the best friend a head of lettuce ever had."

The turn-around from idea to reality for the shop has been a swift one. 

"We really got the ball rolling at the very end of August and that was kind of when the dream hatched," she said. "We went to the accountant and he said, 'you're opening a business in the middle of a pandemic, but the kind of business you're opening, that's probably exactly what people need right now.'"

Hudson, along with employees (and sisters-in-law) Julianne and Chelcee Hayhurst, are thankful for the community's support.

Nancy Hudson, Julianne Hayhurst and Chelcee Hayhurst have turned The Cumberland Shop into a success since their Nov. 12 opening.

"We've evolved - we began to find people and then people began to find us," Hudson said. "We've registered close to 30 artisans that we're working with right now."

In an effort to highlight the Cumberland Valley, the store is painted in the colors of spring, summer, fall and winter. Four Christmas trees are decorated to represent each season as well.

"Everyone has just fallen so in love with the trees," Hudson said. "They come in just take pictures of the trees."

In an effort to highlight the Cumberland Valley, the store is painted in the colors of spring, summer, fall and winter. Four Christmas trees are decorated to represent each season as well. "Spring" is pictured here, alongside custom-made cutting boards.

Everything seems to be falling right into place at The Cumberland Shop, especially the appeal to supporting local and giving back.

Julianne shared that they are already seeing customers return.

"We've had a little girl - she and her father have come in every Saturday," she said. "Every single Saturday, they've come in and they've purchased something and it is the sweetest thing. They came in when we were collecting for the women in need. A Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt is what he called it, and they bought one of everything off of the list to bring it in to contribute to the Women in Need Thanksgiving Collection He said, 'we try to do something local, we try to do an adventure every Saturday, so this was our adventure today.'"

Moments like that are inspiring for her.

"I just think that is the coolest thing, that it's a bonding time for this father and daughter to do that but it's also teaching her at such a young age, the importance of getting out and supporting her downtown," she said. "She's into the arts - she wants to be an art teacher when she grows up - so to see things that other artists have created and are able to sell their art. That is going to be a way to help inspire her as she gets older. That's what I find is just inspiring for me to be able to do what we're doing here is we're inspiring the next generation of artists."

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In the future, the ladies at The Cumberland Shop hope to continue to partner with local artisans, especially through Shippensburg University.

Hudson has hope that this opportunity can be a catalyst for revitalizing downtown Shippensburg.

"There are so many ideas in my head," she said. "I have to shut my ideas down at night when I go to sleep because this has just become my baby."

Carley Bonk is a Watchdog Reporter for the USA Today Network - Pennsylvania. Her coverage spans across the southcentral region of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at cbonk@publicopinionnews.com or on Twitter at @carls_marie.