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RI Archives: Style

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Vivian Mandala Deisgn Studio

Susan Silver Antiques

Hudson Antiques Dealers Assocation

Cupboards and Roses

Peter Fasano


New York Designer Fabric Outlet

Kent Chamber

J. Seitz & Company

Steeped In History: Lynda’s Antique Clothing Loft

By Amy Krzanik

Over the past 20 years, the town of Adams, Massachusetts has become something of a pit-stop, a place to refuel on your way to and from North Adams and Pittsfield, but not a destination in itself. Since the closure of the town’s major employer, Waverly Fabrics, in 1991, many businesses have tried and failed to create or keep a foothold along the town’s main thoroughfare, the picturesque Park Street. One of only a handful of success stories has been Lynda’s Antique Clothing Loft. “Every nearby business that was here when I opened the store seven years ago has since closed,” says the store’s owner, the petite and elegant Lynda Meyer.

So, what’s her secret? It could be her vast knowledge of vintage fashions; her shop is stocked with hand-picked clothing and accessories dating from the 1900s to the 1960s. Or it could be her obvious love of what she does, which shows in the store’s two carefully curated window tableaus, which Meyer updates often. (You may have ogled them on your way through town, as they are a welcome departure from the main street’s mostly empty storefronts.)

Meyer grew up in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. On her way to “discovering herself,” she lived in California, studied at the New School of Dance and performed with interpretive jazz bands, worked as an artists’ model in London, taught dance at a Navaho reservation in Chinle, Arizona, and lived in India for a year with an English boyfriend, paying only $6 a month for a one-room house on the beach. “Dance was part of my dialogue with myself, but it generated almost no income,” she says, smiling. She eventually moved back to NYC to look for work.

The self-taught fashion historian (Meyer was a sociology major in college but dropped out), ended up working for a friend who owned a vintage clothing shop in the city. On her hour-long train commute, she would immerse herself in old fashion catalogs, and found that remembering all the details came easily to her.

When the friend moved to Pittsfield and opened Greystone Gardens, the former vintage clothing boutique on North Street, Meyer followed. At that time, NYC was a more dangerous place than it is now, and Meyer was eager to flee after a neighbor was murdered during a home invasion. She eventually bought a home in Adams, drawn to the town’s rolling hills, reasonable housing prices and low crime rate.

After Greystone Gardens closed its doors, Meyer began doing freelance appraisals, and Carl Sprague hired her to design the costume exhibit “The Fruit of the Tree,” which ran at The Mount in Lenox for a year. At this time, Meyer also ran a vintage clothing store out of her house; she would invite people over to drink tea and browse, but friends would end up in her closet trying to purchase items she didn’t intend to sell. Realizing she needed a larger, and preferably completely separate, location to showcase her wares, she opened the Clothing Loft.

The store is a lot like her house, Meyer says. The pink walls and lace curtained entrance give the shop a charming, feminine feel, like a vintage life-sized dollhouse. The clothes help, too. Flattering and well-made dresses from the 1940s-1960s, in an array of colors and patterns, run from $65-$250. Vintage 1950s silk scarves ($10-$70), jewelry from the 1920s-1940s ($65-$120), and hats for women and men made in the years 1900-1960 ($35-$150) are hung on pegs, folded neatly in baskets and lovingly displayed in cases throughout the shop. The most expensive items are the evening dresses, which are perfect for fancy cocktail parties, weddings or proms. They run from $450-$600 and they are exquisite, made with intricate and extensive beadwork, fine satins and velvets, and quality period buttons. Not to be left out, men can find tuxedos and ties, along with winter coats for both sexes ($65-$100).

Besides running the shop, Meyer is still called upon to appraise historical society collections. This could mean anything from cataloging items and setting up displays, to the nitty-gritty of spraying disinfectant to remove bacteria and encouraging the purchase of acid-free paper and boxes in which to store items. “Rust will really spread and ruin something,” she notes.

To refresh her inventory, Meyer scours flea markets, as well as local estate sales. “When I get into a house, my eye is like a Geiger counter,” she says. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, and I can pinpoint a piece of clothing within a two-year period, out of 200 years of fashion.” The small rural Berkshire towns offer a great selection of pieces. “People live here for many years and don’t throw anything away. I have access to material other people would be happy to have.”

As for whom she’s selling to, it’s a mixture of locals, friends and tourists traveling through town from South County to MASS MoCA, the costume departments of the Williamstown Theatre Festival and NYC theaters, and online customers who find her through her Etsy store.

Not one to hoard her knowledge, Meyer gives historical fashion lectures throughout the region. Former venues include The Clark, Norman Rockwell Museum, the Litchfield and Falls Village Historical Societies and Smith College. “I never get tired of it,” she says, “it’s like archeology. When something is very old, it has its own aura.”

Lynda’ Antique Clothing Loft
39 Park Street, Adams, MA
(413) 884-2064
Open Tuesdays—Saturdays, 12-5 p.m.
February 1-28: Sweetheart Sale: whites and linens (handmade Victorian petticoats, sleepwear, blouses & other items) 20-50% off.
April 18, Stockbridge: Mid 19th C. Wearables lecture at Norman Rockwell Museum.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 02/02/15 at 03:09 PM • Permalink

Housatonic Trading Co. Mixes Eras, Prices And Caffeine

By Lisa Green

How would you feel if visitors to your art studio noticed your personal antiques collection hanging around and wanted to buy pieces right out from under you?

I might be a little annoyed, but Litchfield residents Robert Graham [left] and Robert Deyber, God bless them, are not only more magnanimous than I am, but entrepreneurial as well. Their private collection became the genesis of the Housatonic Trading Company, a 3,600-square-foot former carriage factory built in 1876 in Bantam, CT just down the road from Litchfield, that now is filled with antique, vintage and modern items.

Their original stash, which they’d been collecting for years, had to be moved out of their circa 1776 home during renovations. That’s how it ended up in Deyber’s painting studio (which Graham managed), later transitioning to their first retail operation, The White Room Art & Antiques. They soon outgrew the space, and two years ago moved operations to the stately brick building on Bantam Road.

The inventory ranges from consigned goods to antiquities, jewelry, furniture, art and sculpture. Gifty items, like candles, bath and body products and home fragrances, get special positioning on the center table at the front of the store. Eclectic is an adjective that seems overused these days, but it really fits here; you might be looking at a primitive painting sitting on an industrial end table. Or a sideboard with a distressed finish might be topped by a limited edition print. Kitschy tin signs bump up next to leather chairs. Chandeliers and banners hang from the ceiling. Price points range from a couple of dollars to five figures. It’s hard to know what’s vintage or modern or a true antique. And that’s what makes shopping there so fun.

“We have a large local following,” says Graham, who manages Housatonic Trading Company’s retail showroom. “It’s steady in the winter; people know they’ll find new things every time they come.” The website reflects the changing inventory, and supports a brisk mail order business with customers from throughout the world. The enterprise is busy enough to support five full-time employees.

“When I did my reports for 2014, I discovered we’d sold 22,000 items. In one year! I couldn’t believe it,” Graham says, going on to describe the treasures he’d just picked up from a few local estates. He brought more than 1,000 items back to the store, including an 18th-century loom that will be dismantled and repurposed into a piece of furniture.  (At eight feet or so wide, it doesn’t exactly fall into the functional and utilitarian furniture category that people go for, he says.)

Of course, it helps that the store has its own in-house café. Located at the back of the store, Café 202 fills a void; two local cafes recently closed, leaving residents a sorry lack of caffeine stations.

“I’m a coffee aficionado and there suddenly was no good place to get a cup of coffee,” Graham says, “so we decided to open up our own.” Café 202 serves an exclusive dark blend from Saccuzzo Coffee in Newington, CT and offers bakery items from Ovens of France in Woodbury. Also on the menu are teas, frappes and fresh fruit smoothies. It’s a calm, comforting space, and instead of being schooled on where the coffee beans come from, you get to sit amidst the merchandise. There’s the requisite wi-fi, and sometimes live music.

Photo courtesy Housatonic Trading Company

On a recent snowy Saturday, Graham was surprised by the amount of traffic coming through the door. But the refreshed inventory, wi-fi, a good strong cup of coffee and an affable shopkeeper (and, not unimportant, plenty of parking) is a combination that makes the Housatonic Trading Company an ideal place to while away a wintry day.

Housatonic Trading Company & Café 202
920 Bantam Road, Bantam, CT
(860) 361-6299
Open daily (except Wednesday), 9 a.m.—5 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/24/15 at 01:57 PM • Permalink

Bohemian Birdy: Luxe For The Home In Chatham

Tim Ebneth, Birdy store manager, and Christine Mottau, owner.

By Nichole Dupont

Christine Mottau has it all; a place in the city, a place in the country, a glamourous freelance career working with the likes of Ralph Lauren, an online business…talent. But, according to the veteran painter and stylist, who divides her time between NYC, Spencertown and wherever her assignments take her (“I travel all over the place”), she was missing, until recently, the one thing every artist needs: A canvas.

“I got sick of the online store by itself. There was no interaction with the product and with people,” she says. “There was something lacking. There was no ‘set’ so to speak. No space for the product to be.”

That much-needed space became available just a few short months ago on Chatham’s main drag — one that has enjoyed a string of retail and eatery openings throughout the last five years — a “storybook town” in Mottau’s eyes. She, with help from friend and fellow artist and set designer Tim Ebneth, flung wide the doors of the Birdy Home Collection, a curated cacophony of accessories — modern, vintage, somewhere in-between — for nearly every interior taste and price point.

“I call it jewelry for the home,” she laughs. “And everybody should be able to buy jewelry for their home.”

Her euphemism for the carefully-selected merchandise is dead on point. Jewel-toned vases ($75 and up) — orange, lime green, red — and abstract paintings (most by Mottau herself, $200 and up) are vibrant against a backdrop of white walls and shelving and a heavy-handed collection of creamy ceramic pieces that range from an outrageously ornate French tureen to delicate, hand-blown opaline pieces ($80) with some crystal thrown in for glittering good measure.

“I like all stuff from all different periods. Modern shapes with interesting detailed finishes,” Mottau says about the selection at Birdy. “As long as there is a high level of finish quality. I can put everything together and tell a visual story.”

Every nook of Birdy is an opportunity to display the wares that Mottau has collected from her travels orchestrating still-life shoots for Harper’s Bazaar, Calvin Klein Home, the NYT Magazine, Bergdorf Goodman and countless others. Wares range from a carved African horn bowl ($80) to smoked cocktail glasses ($150/set of eight). Deliberate vignettes pack the store, showcasing the stylist’s love for not only clean lines and authentic texture, but also her unabashed admiration of the natural world. A cup and saucer set intricately etched in a leaf pattern; a pillar candle made to look like a birch tree, interior rings and all; cast iron bird statuary: all of these pay lifelike homage to Mother Nature’s incomparable design sense.

“I love fake nature. Or faux nature,” she says. “It’s the line. I grew up in Greenwich Village with bohemian parents, you know, of course. But also spent a lot of time in southern New Hampshire, the Monadnock region, where my family is from.”

The self-proclaimed Northeasterner feels right at home in Chatham and was surprised and delighted at the warm reception she received when the store opened in November of last year. She and her husband, Michael Block, were immediately enmeshed in the town’s quirky world of generations-old farm culture meets bearded hipster coffee poets, where retailers have become the neutralizing middle ground for consumers, passersby and eager artists.

“It was a crash course in the arts community,” Mottau recalls about those months leading up to the Birdy space. “My husband’s a writer and I’m a painter and we were amazed at how many people living here are artists. Everything really just fell into place. Having a business here is a community ‘thing’ without a doubt. It’s not just about buying and selling.”

Mottau is already scheming artist shows and silent auctions and other big events as soon as the mercury decides to hold steady in the spring. She is looking forward to seeing the place in the summertime, and of course, to curating the window displays that, for the time being, are filled with two giant, repurposed wooden peace signs. 

“It’s easy to have good design at Bergdorf, but my philosophy about the store is ‘what’s good is good,’’’ Mottau says. “Good design is good design. Period.” 

Birdy Home Collection
5 Main Street, Chatham, NY
Open Wed. - Sat., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(518) 392-1610

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Posted by Nichole on 01/12/15 at 08:01 AM • Permalink

10 Unusual Last-Minute Gifts You’ll Find Only In Hudson

By Jamie Larson

By now the secret is out on Hudson’s shopping district. There are beautiful antiques of course, galleries of the highest caliber, and shops of all variety up and down Warren Street. But there are still more secrets to be found and bought in Hudson.

In the back of stores throughout the city there are unique items you can’t find anywhere but here. Hudson’s collectors and merchants have assembled a treasure trove of one-of- a-kind, sometimes downright strange items from the farthest corners of the globe as well as objects made only within the city limits. Here are 10 things you can buy only here — just in time for your last-minute holiday shopping. (And it’s just the tip of the wonderfully unusual iceberg that is Hudson commerce.) 

1. 1920s South African painted sperm whale inner ear bone: White Whale Limited

Due to the pressure it needs to withstand in the ocean’s depths, the inner ear bone of a whale is the densest and strongest on earth. It also happens to be shaped like half a man’s head. This strange and rare piece ($475), which is painted but not carved, is an uncommon gift for the person who has everything — but this. The piece is a good ambassador for the rest of the cabinets of biological curiosities at White Whale, which sells affordable display boxes of petrified bugs, bats and lizards ($20+) alongside a real, complete human skeleton. With coffin ($1,950). 
410 Warren Street
(518) 755-6439 or (518) 755-6441
Mon—Sun: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2. “Upcycled” children’s clothes made from vintage sweaters: The Bee’s Knees

The Bee’s Knees has become a must-visit for area parents looking for the best quality children’s clothes and toys. As much as it can, the store stocks locally produced items like these — patched together from high-quality salvaged material by two Hudson moms. Prices vary ($25-50) by size; the cashmere, of course, hangs at the higher end.
302 Warren Street
(518) 697-0888
Mon, Wed and Thurs: 11a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fri and Sat: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 4 p.m.

3. Vietnamese snake skin thap tam: Musica

Musica is a toy store for the musically inclined in your life and perfect for holiday shopping; it offers stocking stuffers like mouth harps alongside larger gifts like high-end amps and guitars. There are also less familiar world instruments like the thap tam ($179), which would add an ethnic music vibe to someone’s music room.
17 N 4th Street
(518) 828-1045
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

4. Literary lithographs: Spotty Dog Books and Ale

For the avid reader, these attractive lithos hide the entire text of your favorite stories in the images themselves. The example shown is the entirety of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” shrunk down to create the stormy image. The pieces vary in price depending on size (starting around $20). We warn, however, not to go into the Spotty Dog if you are in a rush. The combination of well-stocked books and a great selection of beer and wine can turn a quick visit into a languid afternoon recess.
440 Warren Street
(518) 671-6006
Monday—Thursday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 6 p.m.

5. Hand-made knives forged from salvaged metal and found materials: Devil in the Woods

Ryan LaPoint’s sign-less basement shop can be hard to spot, located just down the hill from City Hall, but his unusual collection of antiques and records make finding it worth the effort. LaPoint has also become known for the unconventional knives he cuts out of old saw blades or hammers down from railroad spikes. He laboriously handcrafts each one, adding handles of reclaimed wood or found bone. If that’s not your thing, there’s probably something hiding in wait for you in the back of his deep basement shop.
518 Warren Street
(845) 729-7163

6. Flowers and sauerkraut: Flowerkraut

Just because no one thought to combine a sleek modern florist shop with an artisanal sauerkraut boutique before doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. On the contrary, Flowekraut looks, smells and tastes like beautiful, understated genius. Floral arrangements, gifts and potted and pendant plants are all elegantly curated. Sauerkraut Seth’s kraut, which shares a cooler with the bouquets, ranges in flavor from kimchee to jalapeno ($6-10), is as good as it gets and makes a tasty tack-on gift for any foodie, or the person who needs one more thing under the tree.
722 Warren Street
(518) 965-5669
Thursday—Monday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

7. “Dirty Earls:” John Doe Records

Prolific Hudson artist Earl Swanigan’s wonderful paintings of anthropomorphic animals fill shops and galleries throughout Hudson and have become highly appreciated and sought after. What most don’t know and what has certainly been less reported on are Swanigan’s more sexually explicit paintings. Funny, edgy, confusing and sometimes downright pornographic, these “Earls” pop up in a few places like Devil in the Woods and here at John Doe.
434 Warren Street
(518) 212-7653
“Noon to 5 p.m. or later, 7 days a week or whatever.”

8. Elsa Schiaparelli cape: Hudson Vintage

Normally found only in museum collections, this elegant piece by the premier 20th-century designer could be yours for $1,800. We dare anybody to wear it (and hope we’re at the party taking photographs when it’s flaunted). This rare find is in amazing condition and would be perfect for the serious fashion collector in your life. If by chance the Schiaparelli is out of your price range or capes don’t particularly mix with your current wardrobe, Hudson Vintage has a lot more to offer in the way of clothes and jewelry.
433 Warren Street
(518) 828-7484
Friday—Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

9. Unusual vintage Aro-view print of Hudson: Hudson City Books

A pearl for the collection of any Hudsonofile or map lover, this 1923 Aro-view print ($450 professionally framed, $150 unframed) enhances the shelves of fascinating offerings in this timeless antiquarian bookstore. If this beauty wasn’t sweet enough on its own, maybe the fact that all proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Hudson Area Library will persuade you to make a purchase.
553 Warren Street
(518) 671-6020
Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday:11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

10. Rare Indian fabrics: Handloom Batik

For anyone on your list who quilts, makes clothing or crafts with fabrics, this store is a rare and beautiful bird. It’s filled with imported fabrics from Asia, traditional block prints and silks (prices in all ranges), as well as statues, artwork and other gifts. You may need to plan your visit because the store is open only Friday through Sunday (sometimes Thursday), but if you’re looking for fabrics, Handloom has some of the finest anywhere.
532 Warren Street
(518) 828-2205
Friday-Sunday: noon to 6 p.m.; sometimes Thursday.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 12/15/14 at 04:46 PM • Permalink

Holiday Hit List: All The Gifts That Are Fit To Give

By Amy Krzanik

“Artisanal” is a word thrown around quite a bit these days, but in our region it truly means something. It means taking the time to create, bottle and label your scents by hand, as does Hudson’s 2 Note Perfumery. Or, like Goshen’s Milk House Chocolates, knowing the name of the cow who supplied the cream for your sea salt caramels. Whether you shop online or on foot, we hope you’ll appreciate the fact that RI has gathered together some great gift ideas and a list of local shops, wineries and roasteries where our neighbors still take the time to make things by hand.

Artisanal Libations & Desserts

Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery
The local distillery is world-renowned for its Core Vodka, Cornelius Applejack, Black Raspberry Vodka, and three flavored brandies: peach, cherry and rare pear. Stop by for a tasting on weekends, and follow the farm on facebook to see what delicious cocktails the crew is stirring up (Hot Cherry Toddies!) and where. (Prices vary by shop; see website for all locations where Harvest Spirits are sold.)
Golden Harvest Farms
3074 US Route 9
Valatie, NY
(518) 758-2920

Miranda Vineyard
The Miranda family’s handcrafted vintages ($14.99-$36.99) are produced using traditional European methods passed down through generations, combined with modern scientific advances. Come visit the picturesque vineyard, bring friends, and enjoy one of their award-winning wines. Check the vineyard’s website for special events like live music, specialized tastings and the very popular Lushes Ladies Night.
42 Ives Road
Goshen, CT
(860) 491-9906

Balderdash Cellars
Owners Christian and Donna Hanson produce ultra-premium wines from grapes grown by world-class California vineyards. The bottles start at $14 and run up to $90 for the company’s favorite, the Brakelight Reserve Syrah. With hip labels detailing the interesting, if not completely true, tales of how each wine originated, any of these bottles is sure to be a conversation starter. Tasting room is open weekends from 1-5 p.m.
502 East Street (rear of building)
Pittsfield, MA
(413) 464-4629

The Hudson Standard
The company’s versatile bitters and shrubs — a blend of vinegar, fruit, herbs and a sweetener that makes great mixers for cocktails and stands alone in seltzer as a sophisticated non-alcoholic beverage — are the perfect gift for the creative mixologists in your life. The three current shrub flavors are Apple-Coriander-Maple, Pear-Honey-Ginger, and Strawberry-Rhubarb; and the bitters come in Spruce Shoot, Ginger and Celery flavors. ($15 for bitters; $22 for shrubs; $60 for a three-bitters gift set). Find them locally at Rubiner’s in Great Barrington, the Hillsdale General Store, Olde Hudson and Valley Variety in Hudson, and “on tap” at Hudson Food Studio.
341-1/2 Warren Street
Hudson, NY
(518) 828-6411

Assembly Coffee Roasters
Julia and Thomas Doyle founded ACR as a true micro-roastery, roasting specialty coffees in small batches so as to give themselves the flexibility to work with clients to create custom blends. Find them online, at Guido’s, Dotties’s Coffee Lounge and local farmers markets, and at their shop offering tastings.
814 East Street
Pittsfield, MA

Six Depot Roastery & Café
Although this local cafe roasts its own beans by hand and sells regional products such as honey, olive oil and cheese in its “microshop,” owners Flavio and Lisa bring years of experience from time spent in Argentina, Italy, India and NYC. So you can trust their taste in organic, sustainable and fair trade coffee ($10-$11 per 10 oz), imported loose leaf teas (price varies by selection), and carefully selected salts from around the world ($8-$13 per 8 oz). Another thing that’s carefully selected: the live music and theater, art exhibits, film screenings and other well-attended events the cafe offers each month.
6 Depot Street
West Stockbridge, MA
(413) 232-0205

Thorncrest Farm, LLC/Milk House Chocolates
Few chocolatiers can boast that they know the name of the cow the milk in their milk chocolates came from. But Thorncrest’s “single cow” origin chocolates are created from the fresh milk, cream and butter of on-site cows who are fed the finest, sweetest hay and natural feeds. Now that’s artisanal! Holiday favorites include Cabernet Sauvignon Dark Chocolate Truffles (10 for $38.25) and “Daydreams” Dark & Milk Sea Salt Caramels (12 for $24).
280 Town Hill Road
Goshen, CT

Housewares, Candles & Scents
FINCH…life curated
The premier candle from FINCH, “Autumn/Winter Scent 1,” conjures wintry nights by the fire, the combination of burnt clove, cinnamon bark, vanilla and sweet bourbon. The 100% soy candle ($58) is the first in a series of signature scents from the shop and comes housed in a reusable, handmade porcelain vessel by local designer Dana Brandwein. While you’re in the store, check other housewares by Dana and her husband, Daniel Oates. And follow the link above to get a behind-the-scenes look at the candle-making process.
613 Warren Street
Hudson, NY
(518) 828-3430

Pergola Home
There’s always something sprouting up at Pergola, from artists’ collections like John Derian’s decoupage decor (price varies by size), to carefully selected potted plants, unique garden finds both new and vintage and beautiful botanical books. It’s worth a visit just to view the shop’s magical and inspiring displays and the waterfall out back.
7 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
(860) 868-4769

2 Note Perfumery
Carolyn Mix and Darcy Doniger craft small batches of all their perfumes and bath and body care products. Comparable to an artisan bakery, they mix, bottle and label each product by hand. Their high standards, use of organic ingredients and attention to detail make it a joy to bask in 2 Note’s butters, balms, salves and scents. Stop in and smell what you’ve been missing.
255 Warren Street
Hudson, NY
(518) 828-0915

Paper Trail
Paper Trail is one of those stores that can fit into any category on this list, as it offers eclectic gifts for everyone. Letter writers will love the wide array of stationery and the brass envelope seals ($12-$14, with wax sold separately, $4.50), but the store carries a lot of other giftable goodies, such as watches, wallets and scarves for men and women, as well as jewelry, art, fragrances, linens and much more. Stop into the store or check out the website where you can search items arranged by type or price.
6423 Montgomery Street, #2
Rhinebeck NY
(845) 876-8050

J. Seitz
Litchfield County resident and artist Ron Norsworthy, known to some as the founder and lead designer of the luxury linens line N•HOME, will add to his line of framed “Rorschach”  silver leaf art this season with hand-poured candles. The jumbo pine-scented candles ($68) sit in silver ceramic holders and come prepared for giving in their own gift bags. The limited edition Ink Blot Prints are $398. 
9 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
(860) 868-0119

Exotic finds from foreign lands, garden decor, apparel for men, women and children, and carefully curated vintage and contemporary selections for the home are all in one place at Punch. For men, the store carries Hunter Boots, leather gloves, silk ties, cashmere scarves and cufflinks. Women can shop for fisherman’s sweaters, country chic outerware by La Chasse Millbrook, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans and basics by A’nue Ligne.
3262 Franklin Avenue
Millbrook, NY
(845) 677-6796

Kiehl’s + Norman Rockwell
This year’s Kiehl’s Greatest Hits Collection ($45) comes wrapped in the iconic illustrations of Stockbridge’s native son Norman Rockwell. Enjoy all of your favorite products — Creme de Corps Moisturizer, Midnight Recovery Concentrate and others — and do good at the same time. 100% of Kiehl’s net profits up to $100,000 from the US sales of this Limited Edition set will support Feeding America.

Clothing & Accessories

Here’s a chance for you to buy local and go global at the same time, with Derin’s luxury bath towels, richly patterned bags and coordinating accessories, and original jewelry straight from Turkish artisans who’ve been perfecting their craft for decades.
7578 North Broadway, Suite 9
Red Hook, NY

EYZ Readers
Designed by painter, fiber artist and IS183 teacher Linda Clayton, these are “not your grandmother’s reading glasses.” Colorful, unique, sturdy and affordable ($59), these readers also glow gently in the dark so you’ll never have to search blindly for them on the nightstand. They’re siliconized and somewhat pliable and can be found on Clayton’s etsy store and in shops around town, including Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown (snag some alpaca socks while you’re there), JWS Art Supplies in Great Barrington and Vlada Boutique in Stockbridge.

Here’s your one-stop-shop for “buying local” for everyone on your list. The shop (across the way from Chocolate Springs, yum) carries custom-order bag and leather goods from owner Elizabeth Powell; screen-printed gifts from Molly and Aurelian de Saint Andre’s trio of companies: Moho Desgins, Petit Pilou and Berkshire Four Poster; jewelry by Anni Maliki ($48 and up), Wendy Krag O’Neil ($98 and up) and James Kennedy ($175 and up) among others, upcycled wine bottle glasses and tree bark lamps from Warren Barber, hand-knit scarves, home goods and a whole lot more.
55 Pittsfield Road
Lenox, MA
(413) 553-3557

Privet Lives
Privet House’s little sister is an ever-evolving space that celebrates different brands, designers and artisans each month. For its third brand collaboration, the concept store selected Shinola, makers of modern, handcrafted watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals. Shinola’s full suite of products is available in the store until the end of December.
13 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
(860) 619-0297
Books By Local Authors

The Commons by Susan Dworkin
Author of the New York Times best-selling memoir The Nazi Officer’s Wife, Susan Dworkin has penned a thrilling new novel, The Commons, about a future society facing a catastrophic threat to the food supply. Read an excerpt on her website, then head to your local bookshop to pick up your own copy.

Organic: Farmers and Chefs of the Hudson Valley by Francesco Mastalia
Photographer Francesco Mastalia took more than 100 portraits of the farmers and chefs of the region, and allowed them to describe in their own words their philosophy about what it means to grow and live organically and sustainably. ($49.95)

Vegetarian Dinner Parties: 150 Meatless Meals Good Enough to Serve to Company by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
The local authors extraordinaire explore the culinary possibilities of vegetables, so you’ll know what to prepare for that vegetarian on your guest list (about half of the recipes are suitable for vegans, as well). Each recipe is complemented by a wine or drink pairing to make your meal foolproof, and even covers dessert by way of warm vegan donuts. ($32.50)

World Order by Henry Kissinger
Kent resident Henry Kissinger draws on his experience as a polished statesman and reveals his analysis of our 21st-century challenges, namely, how to build a shared international order in a world of violent conflict and ideological extremism. ($36)

A Chef’s Life: Farm-to-Table Cooking in the Berkshires by Michael Ballon
Castle Street Cafe’s owner and chef celebrates the Great Barrington restaurant’s 25 years in business with a look back at past menus, a look ahead at food trends, and, of course, plenty of time-tested recipes.

Capturing Connecticut 2015 Calendar by Lynne M. Anstett
Photographer Lynne Anstett of Imagery Art Works has created both a useful gift and a beautiful keepsake. Spend an entire year in the lovely Litchfield County with these calendars that come in a 5x7 size and a traditional flip wall size of 9x12, as well as an 11x14 wall mounted and 5x7 desk style versions. Find them at The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, The Artisans Guild in Norfolk and The Salisbury General Store.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/02/14 at 02:23 PM • Permalink

Hudson’s Cashmere Popup Store Returns For The Season

Five years ago, when Bernie and Harriet Shur needed a place on Warren to set up their cashmere popup shop during the holiday season, they had their pick of seven empty storefronts. This year, they could not find a single empty one on which to alight. Hearing that the cashmere purveyors had no place to pop up, the owner of Home Asian Antiques, Renee McBride, invited them to take the front half of her store (including the windows). Good for her business, good for the Shur family.

And good for the rest of us, too. Now they are really able to spread out their capacious collection of top-of-the-line,  deeply discounted cashmere scarves ($35, three for $95), throws ($100- $150), women’s sweaters ($75-$95), men’s sweaters ($95 - $110), wraps ($40-$75), ballet slippers ($35), and scores of gloves and knit caps. Each piece is from a respected supplier of cashmere fabrics and knits to high-end designers here and abroad.

The shop is now open and ready for you to stock up through January 5. When we visited the shop in late November, the place was already packed, but there’s a lot of cashmere in there for those with a soft spot for “the jewel of fibers.” There’s new merchandise arriving daily, and all credit cards are accepted.

Cashmere on Warren
535 Warren Street, Hudson
Now-January 5, 2015
11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. daily
Closed on Christmas      
(518) 965-2144


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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/01/14 at 09:06 AM • Permalink

The Merchants of Lenox: 69 Church Street

By Nichole Dupont

On a frigid Saturday, nothing was keeping the shoppers away. Ghost town be damned. And while many were certainly on the hunt for traditional gift items, they were delighted to find fine art nudes, bright, cozy blankets and high-end jodhpurs in the mix. The “complex” at 69 Church Street in Lenox is the new hotspot for entrepreneurs who want to make big things happen and who aren’t afraid to do business a little differently. Although the cluster of new storefronts in old buildings — this is New England, after all — is somewhat distanced from the hub of the town wheel so to speak, these women-owned businesses seem to be taking the lead in moving the town into the trending horizon.

Doris Barsauskas is a dominant voice in the town’s emerging merchants collective (some 22 strong). She is a recent transplant from Marblehead and the owner of MacKimmie Company, a more traditional retail shop specializing in textiles. It’s an ideal space to warm up in. Luxurious blankets and throws — some cotton, some wool, some tartan, some bright — fill every inch of the store. The soft loungewear and very un-New England vibrancy are a perfect antidote to the frigid season. And the pricing is reasonable, ranging from $33 for cotton runners from Dash & Albert to $195 for plush, I-should-be-snuggling-with-Gerard-Butler wool throws.

Like MacKimmie Co., Willowbrook Home is a traditional retail space, but with an almost dizzying array of very high-end pieces for the home, the table and the closet. Owner Allison Crane is at the head of a triumvirate — Allison Crane Interiors, Places + Spaces Staging, Willowbrook Estates. The store speaks to that interior obsession, and every nook could be a magazine spread. Crane carries coveted brands such as Match Italian pewter ware, Simon Pearce glassware, cashmere clothing for adults and babies (including deadly-soft socks) as well locally crafted jewelry and gifts by Beth Carlisle (Lapis and Lime) and Dan Burkhardt.

Refined local talent also informs the Sohn Fine Art Gallery, formerly located at Elm Street in Stockbridge. The new gallery is twice the size of its former self and is an oasis of sorts amidst the busy retail interiors of the complex.

Owner/photographer Cassandra Sohn has curated a gorgeous space with honey-toned wood floors, plenty of light and white walls. Works by several artists, equal parts local and international, hang intentionally in the angled space. The star-studded — Michael Jackson, Iman, Brad Pitt — black and white photos by Greg Gorman (giclee prints, $2,000-$10,000) face opposite the large digital compositions of flowers and old postcards by local designer Kevin Sprague (24”x36”, $395). Haunting photographic collages by Fran Forman depict otherworldly children with butterfly wings (giclee prints, $1,000-$3,000) while architectural images of the Brooklyn Bridge and the London Eye by Amiel Gervers transport viewers from country whimsy to harder places (giclee prints, $75-$550). The gallery also offers printing and framing and is host to several photography workshops and an annual community art exhibit. 

The showcase of goods at 69 Church is also a showcase of talents and unique services. The Berkshire School of Etiquette, founded by Diane Massey, offers an array of classes and experiences. Kids can learn the finer art of the five course dinner (including making eye contact) while adults can hone their networking and interview skills in a private or group setting.

You can practice the art of good manners at your next function. How about a soup-to-nuts wedding offered by the Berkshire Wedding Collective, a concierge service for all things nuptial? Founded by local marketing guru Tara Consolati, BWC covers everything from photography — Tricia McCormack has office space there — to spa days to restroom trailers. Consolati is also the Corporate Events consultant for efd Creative (located at 69 and also on Newbury Street in Boston), an event planning company that organizes weddings, anniversaries, reunions, corporate events and birthday bashes (see Nicholas’ Birthday bash in their gallery, I want to be that kid!).

Lenox businesses are making headway, and according to Barsauskas, hopefully burying the “myth” that the only season is the summer season. She may be right.

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Posted by Nichole on 11/21/14 at 04:16 PM • Permalink

Treat Yourself To A Little Turkish Delight From Derin

By Andrea Pyros

As eclectic and increasingly diverse as the Rural Intelligence area is, it’s still unusual to find locals who found their way here — in this case, Red Hook — from Turkey. That, however, is the story of Sara Sharpless and Ersan Abit, the husband and wife co-owners of Derin, a wholesale and retail business that sells luxury Turkish bath towels and richly patterned bags and coordinating accessories.

Sara Sharpless

Sara grew up in Westchester, Ersan in Turkey, but the couple met in Manhattan when both were graduate students. “He was a waiter at my favorite little restaurant, and we were friends. He finally had the nerve to ask me out, and the rest, we say, is history,” she says. After marrying in 2000, the couple moved to Ersan’s native Istanbul and stayed there for a few years. When they returned to the States in 2002, they stumbled into what would become their business and passion, Derin (named after their son).

“We brought these beautiful bags back from Turkey — we call them ‘carpet bags’ because the fabric looks like a carpet — and we thought they were really neat, so we took them to fairs and sold them, one by one. We only had a handful so we had Ersan’s father send us more, and we quickly realized people loved them as much as we did.”

Excited by their initial success, the couple returned to Turkey to develop their own line of fabrics, picking and choosing colors and prints with the goal of making Derin a line with an Eastern influence that could appeal to the U.S. market.


They also found three master tailors in Istanbul who were part of a long tradition of the bag-making craft in Turkey, who now work exclusively for Derin.

Even if you’re not in the market for a fabric bag, you can’t help but be captivated by the designs, swirls of colors and coordinating borders that conjure visions of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, where Ersan’s grandfather worked as a merchant for 70 years. The sizes, shapes and functions of all the bags and accessories, though — overnighters, backpacks, jewelry rolls, an iPad sleeve, among a long list of others — are thoroughly circa 2014. Prices range from under $10 to $112.

Yoga mat bag

Initially, Derin was exclusively wholesale (the line is sold in more than 30 states and in Canada), and then Sara and Ersan put their retail business online, finally opening their Red Hook doors to the public about five years ago. Along with expanding how customers can find their products, they’ve branched out the store’s offerings with a popular jewelry line, Derya (named for their daughter), and Turkish bath towels and olive oil-based bath products.

Their ticking-striped Turkish bath towels ($34 each) are made from high quality cotton, not terrycloth. The couple had been using them in their own home, and realized their customers would appreciate them, too. “We thought we’d just sell them retail, but we’ve had such a great response so we’ve begun selling them wholesale as well.” The towels, extremely soft to begin with, only get softer and more absorbent the more they’re used and washed. By January, expect Derin to begin carrying their brand-new line of beach ponchos made with the same fabric — all milled and sewn in Turkey.

Derya necklace

When the economic slump hit small businesses like theirs, they felt they needed to expand. “Ersan was searching for something different that could have a nice synergy with our existing product, and he found a pewter jewelry line, and we’ve also brought in hand-painted copper, both made in Istanbul,” Sara says.  The jewelry line, which includes lead-free, silver-plated pewter, runs from $17.50 to $75.

The one item not from Turkey is Derin’s newest offerings: olive oil based body butters, soaps and lip balms that Sarah makes herself by hand. “I love being creative and the soap making is really fun. They are all little works of art. I’ve been using all the products and it’s amazing how much better my skin is. I use only high quality ingredients and that makes a difference. I know that I’m doing something that is good for myself and I love providing that for my customers, too.”

Derin International, Inc.
7578 North Broadway, Suite 9
Red Hook, NY
Open Monday—Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed Sundays

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/17/14 at 01:38 PM • Permalink

McTeigue & McClelland: New Atelier For Old-World Tradition

By Lisa Green

Photo: Kevin Sprague

The stunningly gorgeous and meticulously handcrafted jewelry of McTeigue & McClelland has left its iconic yellow cottage on Main Street in Great Barrington and relocated to a new icon just up the road. Last weekend, co-owners Walter McTeigue and Tim McClelland opened their new retail showroom and workshop — now housed in a landmark historic building — with several events to show off the new building and jewelry collections.

The former Christian Science church, dating back to 1850, gives them 7,500 square feet of space. “Our efficiency is going to go through the roof,” says McTeigue, a fourth-generation jeweler, (although the last thing a visitor thinks about when confronted with the peerless pieces is efficiency). 

The renovation went quickly by normal building standards. “It all feel into place incredibly well,” says McTeigue. “We started in August of last year and got the Certificate of Occupancy on Thursday. It was a collaborative effort between our architect, Stephan Green (of Clark + Green) and contractor Allegrone. They brought the best of what they do.”

Now, the Mc2 staffers are housed in a building in which the artisanry and craftsmanship matches their own. While the mid-19th century masonry walls, woodwork and plaster have been preserved, the interior furnishings were selected with exquisite care. New display cases were designed to fit the showroom space, the leather on which the jewelry rests was custom dyed in Italy, and the lighting enhances the jewelry — and the customers — to their best advantage.

“It’s an inspiring place to work and be creative,” says McTeigue. “Now Tim and I have the opportunity and room to look at the big picture and begin a new era for McTeigue & McClelland.” (It remains to be seen if the giant red bow that used to grace the yellow cottage during the holidays will find a place on the former church’s gabled roofs.)

Opening celebrations started with a private cocktail party on Friday evening; guests included Karen Allen and Yo-Yo Ma. On Sunday, an open house invited visitors to tour the showroom and workshop.

McTeigue & McClelland has long been a destination for customers with the means and motivation to have a piece of jewelry designed for them. They come from around the world to work with the co-owners and artisans. Understated and elegant, the new space will be a welcoming starting point for customers who are perhaps visiting our area for the first time.

Co-owners Tim McClelland, the designer of the team, and Walter McTeigue, the buyer. (Photo: Kevin Sprague)

Susan Vernier and John Reynold, gallery manager for McTeigue & McClelland; Lynne Jablonski, Duncan Miller, an independent metalworker, and Carrie Harper, a metalsmith.

Walton Ford, Tim McClelland and Karen Allen; Samantha Larson, appraiser/buyer, and Kendal McTeigue, Walter McTeigue’s sister in law.

Katie McTeigue, Walter’s sister, Mary Campbell, a client, and Amber Spring, production manager who was “on the bench” for five years; Caroline Wheeler and Walter McTeigue.

McTeigue & McClelland
454 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/25/14 at 03:01 PM • Permalink

Touch It And Take It Home: Treasures From The Museum Gift Shop

By Amy Krzanik

When you think of gift-giving, don’t overlook your local museum. Not only will you be purchasing a possibly rare or even one-of-a-kind item, but you’ll be “buying local” and supporting a cultural institution in the process. A souvenir magnet or baseball cap is well and good, but most of these shops go above and beyond everyday tourist talismans. Unique jewelry, kitchen goods and other handcrafted items; replica sculptures, lanterns and bird feeders; signed artwork and even a pair of donkey bookends are all a short trip (or a mouse click) away.

For the History Buff:
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum & Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill, Hyde Park, NY  
The serious presidential history fan will find scholarly tomes about FDR, while the more lighthearted among us will get a giggle out of the donkey bookends (there are elephant ones, too) and Eleanor Roosevelt doll. There are also plenty of slightly more serious shirts and hats, as well as some handsome mugs and drinking glasses. 

Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA
After you’ve toured the exhibits and nuzzled the farm animals, stop by the store and treat yourself to some jam, a bit of honey and some tea to swirl it into, a basket-making kit for the crafty, pewter kitchen accessories and herbs and spices for the culinary-minded, and the prerequisite famous oval boxes.

Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, Adams, MA  
Tucked away on a quaint and unassuming corner in the small town of Adams, is the birthplace of America’s most outspoken suffragette. The museum’s gift shop is appropriately female-centered, and carries hard-to-find women’s history texts and children’s book for budding feminists, as well as quilts, handbags, paintings and other art made by local women. The few non-local items the store sells are the fair trade scarves made by Cambodian women who use the proceeds to help extricate themselves from abusive relationships.

Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, New Lebanon, NY
Formerly the site of the largest Shaker settlement in America, Mount Lebanon is now dedicated to preserving and documenting all things Shaker. It shows in the fine selection of books they offer about the Shakers, including history, fiction, design tomes perfect for the coffee table, and even cookbooks. Fans of the sect’s fine craftmanship will want to scoop up the wooden kitchen items and colorful oval boxes everyone loves.

Wilderstein, Rhinebeck, NY
To get the full experience of Wilderstein and its trove of goodies, you must visit the site in person, as only four items are for sale on its website. The gift shop strives to offer an immersive experience, highlighting Hudson Valley history of all types and even offering tea-related items that were so important to Suckley family entertaining. History and animals come together (yay!) in the shop’s Fala items, that’s FDR’s beloved Scotty pooch given to the president by Wilderstein’s last permanent resident, Daisy Suckley. Read more about Daisy’s friendship with the president in the book Closest Companion, one of the store’s most popular items.

For the Kids:
Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA
As any local will tell you, the Berkshire Museum has long been a popular day trip for schoolchildren. Dinosaurs, snakes, sea creatures you can actually touch, and rocks that glow in the dark are just some of the big draws to the downtown museum. The museum’s gift shop is equally as thrilling for kids (and adults), offering plush puppets, educational puzzles and games, and other special items based on current exhibits. 

FASNY Museum of Firefighting, Hudson, NY
Based on its “Super Saturdays” family-friendly programming, annual Dalmatian Day and Arts on Fire! Summer activities for kids, you’d be correct in assuming that children’s items make up a large part of The FASNY Museum of Firefighting’s gift shop. Little ones will enjoy firefighting themed play sets and puzzles, plush dalmatians and other animals, dress-up outfits and even themed cookie cutters perfect for making birthday party treats.

MoCA’s Retail Manager, Phyllis Criddle, with the dresses she created.

For Art Appreciators:
MASS MoCA, North Adams & Williamstown, MA
Art books, children’s toys to inspire creativity, cool jewelry, and tons of great gift items for any occasion are hallmarks of the museum’s two stores. Hardware, the on-site shop, leans toward books that further explore its exhibits, and it has a great kids’ section. MASS MoCA by Design, located on Spring Street in Williamstown, carries even more of the original store’s hip gifts, including groovy gadgets, fun socks, and items from local brand Blue Q. 

Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA
From a copy of the Constitution that belonged to one of George Washington’s friends, to a congealed sea of rainbow-colored latex, you never know what WCMA will have on view to tickle your fancy. The first-floor store also brings the goods, offering exhibit tie-ins, as well as original gifts like funky jewelry, watches, ties, and unique items for the home or office.

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
Take home your own Rockwell—at any price point—with mugs and playing cards, framed and ready-to-hang giclee prints, and larger limited edition prints once owned (and signed) by the artist himself that are worth thousands of dollars.

Eric Sloane Museum, Kent, CT
The shop features a wide selection of books, gift items, and other merchandise for adults and children, including prints that are signed and numbered by the artist himself. No one would blame you if you decided to purchase a print created in each season of the year (it’s difficult to choose to just one, plus there’s a discount if you order all four). Covered bridge or forest scene? Pennsylvania or Taos, New Mexico? Get one of each.

Items from the Clark’s new museum store opening July 4.

The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
The Clark takes its art books seriously, and when the museum reopens on July 4, it will feature not one, but two bookstores – one in the Visitor Center and one in the Manton Research Center. The all-new gift shop will feature a carefully curated selection of contemporary Japanese design objects perfect for gift giving, though based on the sneak peek on the website, you’ll probably end up keeping them for yourself.

Chesterwood, Stockbridge, MA
It’s not just anywhere that you can find a mini reproduction of sculptor Daniel Chester French’s Seated Lincoln, but they’ll gladly sell you one at his former Berkshires cottage and studio. Perhaps the beautiful Andromeda is more to your liking—you have a handful of reproductions to choose from—just don’t forget to pick up a book for more information on the real-life work you just bought.

Handmade, hand-painted bowls from Istanbul, offered in Olana’s gift shop. Photo by Melanie Hasbrook.

Olana, Hudson, NY
Friar’s lanterns, posters, toys and even a jigsaw puzzle of Church’s Niagara: this museum store offers a wide array of new and vintage items relating to Frederic Church, his art, and his family, along with items celebrating the Hudson River School and 19th century art, architecture, decorative arts and landscape design. New this season: An amazing selection of gifts from India to coincide with the site’s All The Raj exhibit.

For Literature Lovers:
Edith Wharton’s The Mount, Lenox, MA
The gift shop features Wharton’s works, naturally, but also carries books about the author, including ones celebrating her interior and garden design aesthetic/skills, and even DVDs of her works that have been made into popular films.

Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop, Austerlitz, NY
This rural outpost was the famous poet’s home for 25 years, and the gardens still grow from the seeds she planted. Now you can have them, too. Stop by the brand-new gift shop in Tamarack Hollow to purchase seeds to grow your own herb garden, snag a bluebird house and a replica of Millay’s own bird feeders, and you’re ready to recreate a cozy garden in which to read. Collectors will also want to check out first-issue stamps featuring the poet, CDs of her poetry set to music, and the new t-shirt design inspired by Millay’s signature.

Herman Melville’s Arrowhead, Pittsfield, MA
Of course they carry all of Melville’s books and biographies of the author, but did you know that Arrowhead’s gift shop is also your go-to store for books on the history of whaling? For local history books AND work by local authors? For cuddly plush toy whales? Well, now you do, so get down there because these items aren’t available online.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/16/14 at 06:46 PM • Permalink