“Feels like some kind of ride but it’s turning out just to be life going absolutely perfectly.” — Brian Andreas, StoryPeople
It has been one heck of a ride! Who’da thunk that back when, in 1996, we (Berle Van Zandt and Donna Rand) would open a magic spot on the map of the Sacramento Mountains?
We’re absolutely thrilled with the way Off the Beaten Path (OTBP) has evolved! We bought a small house on a sunny corner just a block off the main shopping district and opened our doors in November 1996 on a more-than-tight budget. Much of the artwork we made, along with stained glass that Donna’s mom, Clem Rand, and aunt, Liz Woods, made. We also carried some pieces created by artists that dear friends located for us.
Things have changed: We now feature artists from Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, to Greenbank, Washingon, and from Cloudcroft to Novi, Michigan (Guelph, Ontario, Canada actually is home to our northernmost artists). Berle still produces some jewelry, bells and other art, but Clem and Liz have retired.
Good energy is associated with ALL of our featured art because the artists we carry truly love what they are doing. Their passion shows in their handmade work and is felt by our patrons who comment to this effect often.
We offer new, unusual and unique original artwork and gifts to patrons visiting our shop. We don’t want any visitors to see art here they've seen elsewhere. Much of the art we make and that we carry in the shop is created with discarded scraps and other found items. Repurposing and recycling are passions of ours. We don't like to throw ANYTHING away. We believe art made from new is creation and art made from old is SALVATION.
The mood of Off the Beaten Path follows this theme, as well — cool and unusual. The shop sits in an old Cloudcroft home, probably built in the late 1920s or early 1930s (depending upon the old-timer you ask). This isn’t our home, although we spend much more time here than at our residence east of town. We utilize as much of the home as we can, even featuring yard art, wind chimes and other whimsical outdoor decor in our backyard in the warmer months.
Donna was raised in neighboring El Paso, Texas, and Berle grew up in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. We both attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas — Berle earning a bachelor’s in entomology and Donna a bachelor’s in print journalism. Yeah, yeah, yeah… it may not appear that we’re utilizing those hard-earned degrees but we really are… it just doesn’t show on the surface.
Our primary goal at Off the Beaten Path has evolved, as well. It’s not about folks dropping a bundle of money with us — no, we want “to help make people a little happier than when they walked in,” says Berle. And most people who stop in DO leave with smiles on their faces.
So, please stop in and see us on your next visit to Cloudcroft, if for no other reason than to be happy!