Shoptimism: Four Merchants With High Hopes!
The upside of the downturn is that sanguine retailers are willing to take risks because they have so little to lose. We applaud every new shop that opens in our region because they’re not only symbols of hope, but also expressions of our Main Streets’s vitality. More than ever, it’s important to shop local—and support movements such as the 3/50 Project—because the economic recovery begins at home.
What’s Old Is New in Sharon
Six weeks ago, Darren Winston drove past the Sharon Green and noticed a “For Rent” sign on the corner of Main and West Main Streets. “It’s a great spot for a shop because it’s a three-way stop,” he says. Since moving to Sharon, CT, from Manhattan five years ago, he’s been dealing in vintage and collectible books from his house but he was running out of room. “When my wife [Lucinda Winston] and I saw this space, we immediately envisioned how it could be a bookshop,” he says. They found a first-rate carpenter to build sleek bookshelves and left plenty of wall space to show art as well, and opened for business on July 4th “The shop feels a lot like our house,” says Winston, whose furnished the space with three oval Saarinen dining tables and a George Nelson pendant lamp. “I know, some people want a dusty bookstore, but that’s not me.” The shop’s modernist aethetic makes all the sense in the world when Winston explains that many of the books are chosen for their graphics and dust jackets. “My speciality is books that are as interesting to look at as they are to read,” he says. His stock is eclectic and ranges from a first edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ($1,000) and a pristine paperback version of Howard’s End from the 1950s ($25) to the Appendix to The I Hate to Cook Book illustrated by Hilary Knight ($35) to a leather bound volume of issues number 16 - 30 of Rolling Stone magazine ($250.) “I choose every book one at a time,” says Winston, who does not yet have a website. “I think every single thing I sell is cool.”
Darren Winston Books & Prints
81 Main Street, Sharon, CT; 860.364.1890
Thursday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Branching Out in Great Barrington
For the past ten years, Carrie Herrington has owned Farmhouse, a home design store on South Main Street (across from Ward’s Nursery) in Great Barrington, and she always wondered what business might be like if there were walk-in traffic. When the old Tom’s Toys space became available a few months ago, she decided it was time for her to find out. “With the economy in mind, I thought I should make a better commitment to my business or get out,” she says. “I was teetering on getting out so I decided to go out on a limb.” Instead of focusing on home furnishings exclusively, Herrington (whose father-in-law, Ed, owns the tri-state hardware store chain) decided to branch into fashion. “I thought, If Anthropologie can sell housewares and fashion together why can’t I?” In her city life long ago, she had worked for Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue, and she felt that the closing of Gatsby’s on Railroad Street had left a void in the Great Barrington retail mix. “Our new slogan is Everything Fabulous From Your Head Down to Your House.” WearHouse is stocked with stylish basics and designer denim (AG Jeans, Rich & Skinny, Paige, and Hudson) and soon Herrington will be carrying clothes by super chic Calypso. “We’re getting a great reception and so many customers that I’ve never met before,” she says. Most of the furniture (from companies such as Cisco Brothers and Robin Bruce) is in the finished basement. “That’s what made this move possible,” says Herrington, who has been trying to scale back her time-consuming interior design business to spend more time with her five-year-old twins and two-year-old son. “I think I’ve struck the right balance now between motherhood and entrepreneurship.”
307 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA; 413.528.6452
Monday - Wednesday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Mooning Over Millerton
The original Hammertown Barn in Pine Plains is only ten scenic minutes from Millerton, but Millerton is where the action is these days and Hammertown’s Joan Osofsky wants to be part of it and provide shoppers with a taste of what they’ll find at the flagship store on Route 199. She has teamed up with Paul and JIll Choma, who’ve owned the Gilded Moon custom frame shop on Main Street since 2004. Called Hammertown at Gilded Moon, the new space is a collaboration between the two businesses with support from The White Gallery in Lakeville and Eckert Fine Art in Kent. “We needed to expand our workspace in the back but we did not want to just expand the front with more frame samples,” says Paul, explaining that Gilded Moon has state-of-the-art computer equipment for precision cutting of mats and for visualizing how a work of art will look in various frames. You can leave your art and they can email you many options of what different frame and mat combinations will look like. When the store next door became vacant, they approached Joan Osofsky. “She has a great eye and sense of design, and she’s a moral businessperson,” says Paul. “We wanted to have a space to show art with a local connection in a home setting,” he says. Together, they have created a streamlined salon with upholstered furniture and tables by Tim Jones of Stissing Design. “I wanted to keep it clean so you would really look at what’s on the wall,” says Osofsky. And the pale gray walls themselves are getting lots of attention. “Every day, a customer asks us about the paint color,” says Paul. “Joan had it custom-mixed for us up the street at Herrington’s.”
Hammertown at Gilded Moon
34 Main Street, Millerton, NY; 518.789.3428
Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
A Satellite in Salisbury
Dan Dwyer is bullish on good books. He knows that reading is never out of favor with his cultured clientele who collect books on every imaginable subject. Last winter, Dwyer bought a private library of some 9,000 books from a Litchfield County collector, which he could not store or sort at his cozy shop in a 19th century farmer’s cottage just off Salisbury’s main drag, so he decided to open a second location. “And at Johnnycake Two, we only have room for about 4,000 of the books, so as we sell we’ll be replenishing the shelves,” he says. “Most of these books were purchased 40 or 50 years ago so this is all fresh inventory and priced to sell. About 90 percent of the books are under $50. This library is especially deep in poetry and related literature, nature and wildlife, graphic arts and typography.” The shop officially opens on Saturday, July 18, with a reception from 4 - 7 p.m.
Johnnycake Books / Johnnycake Books II
12 Academy Street / 15 Academy Street, Salisbury, CT; 860.435.6677
Summer Hours: Daily 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.