Tara Tepley

This still was taken from a video Tara Tepley of The Paint Factory in Hutchinson posted on Facebook. During pandemic business closures, she posted videos regularly to share with customers how to take on craft projects with things they may find around the house.

When things got tough for business owners during closures in 2020 and 2021, Tara Tepley, owner and instructor at The Paint Factory in downtown Hutchinson, had two choices: cross her fingers and hope for the best, or adapt. She chose the later, and now her creativity has been recognized by the Minnesota Retailers Association.

“Innovation is core to who Tara Tepley is and that is reflected in every inch of her store,” Bruce Nustad, MRA president, said in a press release. “At a time when she could have just sat back and hoped her business would rebound, Tara’s sense of purpose and desire to help her customers shined as did her truly innovative approach to retailing.”

Tepley received the Retail Innovation Award during the Retail Rally event Tuesday in Golden Valley. As part of her business, she leads painting classes and private parties in her studio, but when in-person gathering was prohibited, she had to find new ways to reach customers. To do so, she utilized social media and digital means to lead her classes.

“Facebook Friday, take-home projects, and remote instruction weren’t even on my radar before the pandemic hit,” Tepley said. “I believe in connecting with customers and really listening to them, and from that, with some added imagination, came a lot of changes. I wanted to support my customers and the community during the most difficult moments of the past year and a half. I am blessed to have a store in such a great community where people come together to help each other, and if some of my innovations contributed to the health and happiness of people, I am proud.”

Tepley was nominated for the award by the Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.

“Tara’s ability to look beyond what was happening to her business and jump into what she could for her customers, was incredible to watch unfold,” said Mary Hodson, Chamber president. “She represents #MuchInHutch in all she does!”