Desiree Tretola runs The Myriad, a vibrant and colorful art and thrift shop, hidden in a neighborhood east of Fourth Avenue at 118 N. Hoff Ave. It carries artwork, crafts and thrift-shop items. All of the art is priced at less than $100. Its inventory is continually replenished through trade-ins, donations and art consignment, which gives artists--usually local--80 percent of the selling price of their work. Recently, Tretola started the process to become a nonprofit organization. For more information, visit the Web site, call 312-1238 or send e-mail.

How did The Myriad begin?

It began with me wanting to sell my own art without such a hefty commission--coming up with my own venue for my own art.

So it was difficult selling your art before this?

Well, it's really limited out there as far as selling lower-priced items, and the commission rates are all 50 percent, so that was really what sparked the idea.

How did that eventually become The Myriad?

It took me five years to actually produce it--to find something I could afford and to find something in this area. In the meanwhile, I've always been a thrift-store junkie, and I kind of saw all of the amazing things that you can get and turn over. That was part of it, too ... there are just so many amazing things out there that you can pass on for nickels and dimes.

Can you describe the shop?

It's there for those who find it. We don't strive to really make it bigger than it is; it contains character that way. It's a world of its own. Maybe I'm getting too abstract here. ... It's a circuit of trade and recycled materials, and affordability. It maintains its reputation of being offbeat and elusive.

You recently made a move to become a nonprofit business. What motivated you?

That's our way of giving back. ... It's really just to branch out on a larger scale, and to really make a larger difference and have that ripple effect out into the universe. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make a place where everyone can come, and everyone is touched in one way or the other--either by being able to participate or by being able to take from us: be(ing) able to have things that are appealing to them, as opposed to things being so out of touch as far as art is concerned. Art is just really hard to obtain.

Because of the cost?

Because of the cost and because ... yeah, really, the cost. (Laughs.)

What charities are you contributing to?

It's a worldwide organization: They have branches all around the world, called AIDS Babies, for orphans who are dying alone of AIDS. There's the local potbelly pig sanctuary called Ironwood Pig Sanctuary, and we're doing UNICEF, also. ... Initially, I was inspired to strive to help the smaller organization, which is where those first two came from. UNICEF is more of an organization that everybody knows about; it ties into what it is we're doing as far as resale. It gives our participating artists a chance to cooperate with that. It has the reputation, and it still needs the money, you know. The money is going to good places.

How did The Myriad get to where it is today?

It's kind of (had) a life of its own; it's really at the mercy of a lot of people's influence. There's a lot of subtlety that comes in that will completely divert it onto a new track as far as who participates--who comes in with their new ideas and helps influence us with new things. It's a cooperative; it's a cooperation of people who love it.

With bringing in the charities, where do you see the shop going?

I just really hope that it'll be that much more incentive for everyone.

Is that working already?

I think so. People just light up when they hear that. I think people naturally feel a sense of support when they come here already, because it's so small, and because they know that it's all local artists, and they know that they're helping. But to know that it's going further and that it's branching out, I do think it's going to be really great.

It's probably difficult, but do you have a favorite item in the store right now?

That is difficult! I have to visualize, give me a second. ... It's too hard, there's so many!

Maybe a favorite?

I can't answer that, Chase ... that's some major discrimination. I can't let the objects hear me. (Laughs.)

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