Imagine taking classes organized and taught by local artists on painting, pottery and more.
Imagine weekend farmers markets and Friday night outdoor movies.
These are just some of the visions that Klare Ellis and other local artists have for the Old Ralston Granary, located at 74th and Main streets just east of downtown Ralston.
Though the Granary vision outlined above is far from Ellis' endpoint, he sees the potential for the Granary to be an integral community space.
Ellis took over the lease of the building when the former manager walked out on the lease. He now spends most of his time at the Granary trying to get it up and running and make his vision of what used to be an old agricultural hub into a social one.
Though the venue is still a work in progress, roughly half-a-dozen shops are open at various hours throughout the week and people can check out the Granary's commons area during its regular business hours: Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It all needs work, but it's a neat, open space,” Ellis said.
Ellis walked through the granary pointing out his vision for every space. He hopes to provide private studios for local artists, host a farmer's market in the front drive and open a classroom where artists could teach classes to the community.
Kim Shaw of Iowa said she is interested in teaching classes in the facility and may teach classes in the back of her shop, a space called Photo Art, because she's already had some interest.
Shaw paints over old photos to create a new form of art, adding color to black and white photos or transforming a new photo into a classic looking painting.
“I like to pull out the romance of the image,” Shaw said of her work.
She opened Photo Art on Independence Day weekend.
Shaw said she likes the vintage atmosphere of the Granary and the idea of having artists who create their own work in the shops.
“It's in the early stages of something that could be really exciting,” Shaw said.
Shaw said she'd like to see Ellis and other merchants and artists at the Granary take one more step and see the roughly 120-year-old Granary building put on the National Historical Registry.
Linda Sorgenfrei of Ralston is a first time shop owner. She opened N – E Things Country to sell home decor she makes out of repurposed items.
Sorgenfrei said she would like to see a coffee shop or something similar open up as well as more retail shops to draw more visitors.
Ellis said that his first goal is to get more traffic to the Granary and to plan to have a farmer's market out front next season.
“I've got big ideas,” Ellis said. “But, 'Oh, I have to fix this or that' — that's my reality.”
For more information on individual store hours or to donate to the cause of helping fix this or that at the Granary, visit oldralstongranary.com.