Getting through: Sam, Sarah and Me

Getting through: Sam, Sarah and Me

I’ve had a lot of job titles in life, but nothing compares to entrepreneur.

It’s not that I make more money, gosh, not by a long shot. But it’s the challenge. The creativity. The hope in taking risks and growing something that wasn’t there before.

And the people.

It’s the Sunday before Valentines in my little store in my little town on an incredibly soggy gray day. There will be few customers. I fret that boxes of salted caramel hearts made by Sarah, a small batch producer, will still be on the shelves after Wednesday’s holiday.

Then Sam the painter came to pick up his check. His guys had just finished painting our new building (yes, we’re expanding!) And they did an awesome job. Every penny mattered for him and for me. It’s winter in Rock Hall, after all. Main Street is never a bustling anything, but during this season it is profoundly forlorn. Boaters won’t return until the Chesapeake warms, so we business folks are biting fingernails, dependent on our smarts and good weather to get through.

In that dreariness, Sam’s guys needed work, and I needed an affordable paint job. We negotiated a deal that kept his crew employed for the week, and I saved a few dollars for, well, chocolates and such. Greg at the paint store gave us a good price. We all wanted to see our town perk up a bit.

When Sam arrived, I gave him a little bag with two of Sarah’s caramels – free samples she had given me. The little gesture warmed the chilly day. Then he looked around. He could use a Valentines’ gift for his wife. Why not get it at Vintage Picnic? He chose one of our gift baskets with soaps made locally by Becky. Of course, I gave him a discount.

Policymakers wonder how to transform the hundreds of Main Streets that have seen better days. Last week I listened to a webcast by the august Bipartisan Policy Center on that very topic. The ideas put me to sleep…yes, financing and a trained workforce are always important. But that still won’t work if we don’t tap what we already have.

Hard work, hope and each other.

Give Something Vintage

Give Something Vintage

Calling all grandparents (now that I am one!)…how about giving real treasures this holiday season?

In 1998, Peter’s father gave this fine replica of a S2F1 Sub Killer to our then eight-year old son. From the card we learn that this particular anti-submarine warfare aircraft was used on aircraft carriers from 1955-1965. Granddad goes on to say that he served on an aircraft carrier during the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis. Wow! The missive concludes, “Your great uncle Pete and Oscar both flew these planes.”

Pete’s name is etched into the Vietnam War memorial, and Oscar, who retired as a Navy captain, died this week at 84.

Odd gift? Why give something like that to an 8-year old? Wouldn’t he prefer a “real” action figure? Won’t he break it? (Actually, upon reading this post my son informed me that he did, indeed, break the propellers!)

Well, perhaps it is for parents to buy the “real” presents. Grandparents have the supreme opportunity (even, responsibility?) to give context and meaning to young lives.

Thanks, granddad.

Who came for dessert?

Who came for dessert?

A Monday night dinner with friends. I had a little extra time, so why not make it special?

I rummaged  in the corner cupboard and found my mother’s Austrian desert set circa 1940: a lovely painted serving plate in warm pastels and four dessert plates. (One had a chip, so I made sure I got that one!) Perfect for displaying the day’s baking – marbeled brownies and sunflower seed cookies. Add some good coffee and cream, and suddenly our Monday night supper was pretty darn special.

Best of all, someone else came for dessert that night: my mom.

Here’s what I love about using old things — chips and all, they evoke memory and longing. Try finding those gifts at the mall.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Sewing basket transformed! Sometimes all you need is a little basket to pull out of the boot (trunk) as you head to the winery to swill the afternoon away. The reds and golds are rich with romance, and the basket handle is silk smooth, well worn with love.

C’est la vie!

C’est la vie!

Now this basket was tres charmant! From the fleur de lis to the architecturally etched glasses and classic toile, we built a basket perfect for some cosmopolitan newlyweds. Read about it here!

Peacock in pink

Peacock in pink

A classic Peterboro, NH basket is elegantly transformed with a fresh lining, embroidered linens, Williamsburg shell silverplate and goblets, and Fitz and Floyd asparagus plates. Lovely!

Wine bottle bag

Wine bottle bag

We pull out all the stops to personalize your basket. From initialed “hang tags” to etched glass to monograms, we can really dress things up!