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Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA’s new self-serve maker store

By Jean Grant| Photography by Gabby Frank
Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

The Honest Shop is the latest instalment of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Art In Use series, an ongoing project that explores the relationship between art and its practical applications. The store, which opened last week, is basically an alternative gift shop filled with odds and ends made by both professional artists and amateur craft enthusiasts. But there’s a twist: shoppers pay for their wares via the honour system—there are no sales clerks, no cash registers and no receipts.

The concept isn’t a new one: the first Honest Shop was set up seven years by Grizedale Arts, a contemporary arts residency in northern England, to offer artists a non-traditional platform to sell their work. Since then, it’s been reconstructed at a handful of other institutions around the world. At MOCA, the team made an open call for handmade items and let the makers set their own prices. There’s no special selection process, and anyone who lives in the neighbourhood is invited to drop off their goods during one of three weekly time slots. According to curator Sabrina Maltese, the system is working: so far, all of the shoppers have paid the listed price, or, in some cases, even overpaid. Here’s a look inside the store.

The shop is on the fourth floor of the museum. The tables were designed by Adrian Blackwell and were repurposed for this project:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

This card was made by Jesse Purcell, who runs a screen-printing and design studio called Repetitive Press:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

He also made the decals on the walls:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

When shoppers want to buy something, they put the set amount of cash in a jar and record the transaction:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

These mini mugs were made by Wendy Nichol and sell for $20 each:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

There are signs scattered around the space that tell visitors how the shop works. The shop keeps 20 per cent of proceeds for store upkeep:

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Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

These pencil cases are made by a mother-daughter duo called Sophia and Mom. Five-year-old Sophia makes the drawings and her mom prints them onto canvas products:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

Sculptor Jason Van Horne makes mini replicas of the MOCA building (they sell for $40):

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

There are handmade facial oils and soaps, too:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store

And origami-inspired earrings:

Inside the Honest Shop, the MOCA's new self-serve maker store
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