Tami LaPole Edmunds Creates An Art Fair Every Day

Art in the Alley is a unique Duluth shopping experience

Tami LaPole Edmunds is a “passionate artist and a creative entrepreneur” who describes her “Art in the Alley” store as a place where she “sells happiness and inspiration to women every day,” in the form of fabulous one-of-a-kind jewelry and unique repurposed and new clothing.

Tami surrounds herself with color wherever she goes. Photo submitted.

Growing up in Virginia, Minnesota, where she also graduated from high school, she went on to St. Cloud State and earned a double major in Graphic Design and Communications.

After college, the jobs she held gave her what she describes as a “retail university education” and prepared her to start her own business later.

LaPole started as a marketing director for 50 Below, a company that does a variety of web applications for corporations.

Later, working for Maurices Corporate Office, she loved the creativity of doing store design. She also enjoyed the travel involved with the job and would go to Europe to check out the new fashion styles.

LaPole had the job of Ad Executive for “Woman Today” magazine providing story ideas, magazine design, and art work, and was active in advertising sales.

For four years, Tami served as the Sales and Marketing Director for Minnesuing Conference Center.

Over the years, while she held other jobs, she had also done some repurposing of clothing and jewelry making, selling at art fairs and other places. “I would always wear my own jewelry designs and people would say, ‘I love your necklace.’ I would take it off and give it to them.”

Word of mouth quickly spread and, in 2008, Tami and her husband Dan Edmunds, who is also an artist, decided to open a store in Superior called “Art in the Alley,” selling Tami’s jewelry and clothing and Dan’s pottery.

From there, they later moved to their corner downtown Duluth store and had a separate home store in the NorShor Building. When the downtown Duluth store’s business was severely impacted by Covid and the Superior Street construction, Tami and Dan decided to move to the Miller Hill Mall location.

Along the way they also did a few popup stores in West Duluth and Deming, New Mexico, and a separate Mall pop up across from their main Mall store.

“Our permanent Mall location is definitely our forever home. It has year-round traffic, and it has easy parking. Some people come to the Mall just to go to ‘Art in the Alley.’ Some tourists coming to Duluth every year always make a stop at our store,” Tami said.

New Mexico Art Camp

Even while running the busy Mall store, Tami and Dan make an annual winter pilgrimage to New Mexico which Tami calls “Art Camp.”

“I only create jewelry when I am in New Mexico,” she said. She also works on her signature repurposed jean jackets, decorated flannels with fun sayings and graphics, and on other clothing designs while at “camp,”

Tami and Dan love their annual working vacations to New Mexico. Photo submitted.

She added, “New Mexico is called ‘The Land of Enchantment’ for a reason. It is the perfect environment for artists. There is a different energy there. The colors are vibrant, and the skies are different from anywhere else. I am always inspired there.”

In New Mexico, Tami and Dan live in a small house on the same property as Dan’s parents. Dan has a kiln in their courtyard, and Tami often enjoys working outside on her projects for the store.

The art camp courtyard where some of Tami’s creations come to life. Photo submitted.

Another aspect that Tami loves about New Mexico is the huge bead sale every year and “Rock Hound Roundups,” where she finds healing stones for jewelry that she sends and brings back to the store.

Tami appreciates her wonderful staff who run the store while she and Dan are in New Mexico. “Everybody steps up and takes care of things. I couldn’t do this without them,” she noted.

Devoted Mom and Grandma-To-Be

Tami has one daughter, Gwen, who, over the years, has often worked with her at art shows and in her stores. Gwen and her husband, Ross Mancuso, are expecting a baby girl in August.

“I am thrilled with the prospect of being a grandma. I will be doing daycare a few days a week, and I can’t wait!”

Celebrating Art in the Alley’s 16th Anniversary

This is” Art in the Alley’s” 16th year collectively in their locations. It is the 10th Anniversary of the Mall store.

LaPole said, “The store is all about fun. It is a kaleidoscope of color. People come in to shop, have fun, and leave happy, often wearing what they have bought.”

“We carry clothing for real bodies and women of all ages,” noted Tami.

Being wowed by color is part of the “Art in the Alley” experience. Photo submitted.

One popular core brand are their Elietian body shaping pieces, including leggings, tanks, tops and tunics in a variety of colors.

For accessories, they carry art scarves and gloves, purses, and a vast selection of Tami’s jewelry designs in colors to go with any outfit.

Shoppers love their colorful and easy-to-wear fashions that can be for business, travel, everyday, or special occasions, like Mother of the Bride outfits.

Shoppers can find the perfect jewelry to accessorize any outfit. Photo submitted.

More Than Just a Shopkeeper

Tami remains an eternal optimist and a visionary entrepreneur who sees the world through a prism of vibrant colors. She is always looking for better ways to improve her store and to make the community a better place.

As a cancer survivor, she says, “I am proud of my ability to remain positive through my cancer diagnoses and treatment. I have also worked through many challenges and stressful circumstances with my business, including the Mall roof collapse.”

She is a tireless advocate and a vocal cheerleader for local small businesses, encouraging people to “shop local.” She notes that as a local business owner, she enjoys meeting the people who come into the store and talking to them as the artist who created much of what is for sale there.

“I hear so many times about their lives, their issues, and then I see how me talking and listening to them, helping to pick out things perfect for them, and then seeing them leave the store with a smile on their faces, have changed their day.”








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