NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Smart Art + Craft Supplies reopened Wednesday after closing more than eight weeks ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're so excited to be back," said Kyle Graden, a manager.
The discount arts and craft store opened in Nashville five years ago. Since day one, it has employed adults with intellectual disabilities.
"We work on eye contact, shaking hands and introducing themselves, anything that will build that resume for them to enter the workforce," said Graden.
During the virus lockdown, customers could shop over the phone or Facetime, but employees with disabilities stayed at home. Many of these employees have compromised immune systems.
"It's my first day again," said Sheena, who returned to work this week for the first time since March.
Sheena is one of a handful of the store's employees getting vocational training at Smart Art + Craft Supplies.
"I just feel so blessed being here," Sheena said.
The store gives 100% of it's profits to Progress Inc. The organization promotes the well-being of people with disabilities. To continue on, Graden said the craft store needs the community to think of them for their arts and crafts needs.
"We need our shoppers to come back to support the people we employ. [If we closed] I don't know what would happen and I don't know where they would gain this type of experience that's so tailored to what they need. They have all improved people skills, and communication has come so far with these people and that's all the more reason we need to be here."
The store is located in the Music Valley Plaza in Donelson. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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