CHEROKEE, Okla. — In 2007, three friends in this northwestern Oklahoma community were looking for a common space to welcome others into the craft they loved, and they found it in Scrapbook 101.

Brenda Miller, the only remaining partner, said she, Beverly Jantz and Judy Broce were looking for a good space in Cherokee when they stumbled on the old youth center.

“It was right across the street from another space we were considering, and it was perfect for what we needed,” Miller said. “We all kicked in a third and bought it. We had no idea if anyone would show up, but we figured we could use it ourselves. It turned out to be very popular.”

A place to gather

The space is large enough to accommodate a retail operation, tables for scrapbooking or crafting and a small kitchen. Over the years, Miller has used all three areas to create what is now clearly a community center.

“We started off teaching classes, selling materials, hosting ‘crops’ – it’s a get-together where everyone works on their own stuff – and spending time in the space just getting to know each other,” Miller said. “Judy died seven or eight years in, and now it’s just been me for the past several years.”

Impact of COVID-19

The business remained well-trafficked right up until COVID-19 hit, and then Miller saw everything come to a near stop. She continued to open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons — she still does — and she hosted a crop on the third Saturday of every month. People from the area showed up in smaller numbers, but they still showed up.

“Mostly, it became visitation time with local women,” Miller said. “We have a lot of widows and singles, and they’d stop by just to visit just as much as buy craft supplies or work on a project. The goal of Scrapbook 101 was always for everybody to feel welcome, so I love the transition we’ve seen.”

‘Women’s pool hall’

Miller said women stop in from all over the area: Alva, Enid, Kiowa, Wakita, etc.

“The men have a place they go twice a day,” she said. “They all meet up at the new Jiffy Trip, so the women need a space, too. This has worked as that meeting place. We’ve started calling it the Women’s pool hall.”

Scrapbook 101 is still a creative space for serious, and not so serious, crafters. Customers still buy materials, and they still work on projects to submit to the county and state fairs, as we all as gifts and home decorations.

‘Everyone is welcome’

Throughout the pandemic, much of the emphasis shifted to cards.

“The shop is very busy with cards right now,” Miller said. “We’re really a ministry of cards. Too many people are lonely, and many of them only ever get bills in the mail. We’re trying to reach out with cards. It’s an old practice that we’d like to see come back.”

Ultimately, Miller said Scrapbook 101 is both what she intended for it to be — a creative and retail space for crafters — and a community center that fills an important need in Cherokee and the surrounding area.

“It’s something the town needs,” she said. “You don’t have to buy anything; just come in and visit. Everyone is welcome.”

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Horton is a freelance writer who writes stories for the Enid News & Eagle.

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