Choosing vintage for the home and gift giving

  • Tammy Penfield and Tracy Dresser, owners of Found & Co. in Greenfield. PHOTO BY CRIS CARL

  • Mike Skalski, owner of Catamount Traders, at 874 Mohawk Trail in Shelburne. PHOTO BY CRIS CARL

  •  Early 1800s desk st Whitney Hill Antiques in Greenfield. PHOTO BY CRIS CARL

  • Dale Whitney, owner of Whitney Hill Antiques in Greenfield. PHOTO BY CRIS CARL

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    Early 1800s "toaster" at Catamount Traders in Shelburne. PHOTO BY CRIS CARL

  • Skye Wellington, owner of Innovintage in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For the Recorder
Published: 12/13/2021 2:14:14 PM
Modified: 12/13/2021 2:13:39 PM

It is hard not to notice the growing influx of businesses devoted to vintage and antique offerings in Franklin County. In speaking with a few of the area’s shop owners it came to light how unique and singular each business is, and how the owner’s view their endeavor varies.

Whether you are looking to make your living space distinctive or for gifts that hit home, vintage may be your answer.

Whitney Hill Antiques

“First of all one of the things I hear from people who come into my shop is they are looking to find items to get back to their roots,” said Dale Whitney, owner of Whitney Hill Antiques, 122 Main St. in Greenfield.

Whitney said vintage and antique items, especially furniture, are often higher quality, having been made as an individual item rather than being mass produced.

“They are structurally often better than what you can buy in a big box store theses days, and often for a much lower price,” she said, adding that older furniture is often made with dovetailing and tongue-and-groove construction.

Whitney offered definitions for the difference between antique, vintage and mid-century modern. Antiques are 50 to 100-plus years old, vintage is 25 years and older, and mid-century modern refers to items from the mid-20th century (1950s through 1970s).

“I have started to see young people being drawn to mid-century modern. And oddly, mid-century modern is more expensive than vintage on average,” said Whitney.

In terms of gift giving, Whitney said giving vintage items can be deeply personal, making the gift more meaningful. “We pride ourselves on having a wide range of items so Johnny can buy mommy something for a dollar and dad can spend up to a thousand dollars,” she said.

Whiney said she started her business in Bernardston 11 years ago. “I was basically working out of my garage,” she said.

She moved on to selling on EBay and then graduated to larger spaces and bringing in vendors.

Whitney said she is opening a second, larger shop in South Deerfield in the coming months. “Even with the pandemic, vintage is recession resistant,” she said.

The current business houses 60 vendors.

Innovintage

Skye Wellington, owner of Innovintage at 76 Hope St. in Greenfield, said she opened her business three years ago because she wanted to not only sell antiques and vintage, but “I wanted it to be an experience for people, not just and indoor tag sale.”

For decorating your home Wellington said she likes to “have pieces that invoke nostalgia. Things you saw your parents or grandparents have, or you had as a child.”

Wellington said her shop “is all about energetics. I personally work with all of the vendors to mentor them in creating booths that show a certain kind of energy, theme, or feeling. I feel working with the creation of the booths in this manner is regenerative.”

She said she coaches the vendors and four have branched off to open their own businesses.

Wellington said vintage gifts “offer a lot more heart and thought. The item you picked is something you hunted for and it’s got to be just right.” She went on to say how vintage gifts can remind someone of special events or people in their life. “I love to help vendors and customers manifest vintage,” she said.

She said finding vintage items “can be magical. That’s why I love my shop so much.”

Wellington said she is going to set up a fund through her store in the coming months called “the Giving Tree.” Her personal experiences with a “toxic” relationship led her to create the fund to help survivors of abusive situations to clean out unwanted items, get them a Dumpster, help them clean, move, and redecorate a new home.

“I will let the community know when I am ready to kick the fund off,” she said.

Found & Co.

Enthusiastic owners Tracy Dresser and Tammy Penfield have recently opened their vintage and retail shop, Found & Co., at 284 High St. in Greenfield.

“This is something we both wanted to do for a long time,” said Dresser.

“I was born and raised in Greenfield and this is a way to repurpose and give back to the community and the economy,” said Penfield.

The shop carries “affordable vintage,” retail and repurposed items. “We also have made items such as the soaps I make. I even grow the loofahs in my garden and the soap is vegan,” said Dresser.

In regards to decorating Penfield said, “You don’t have to have new to make a beautiful setting,” with Dresser adding, “It’s better to re-use. It’s more sentimental. We also want our store to be more of a boutique feel. We’re not a thrift store.”

Dresser agreed with Whitney in terms of the level of quality you can achieve in decorating or gifting vintage items. “You just rarely see that kind of quality anymore,” she said.

Penfield said they may offer personal shopping for people in the future to help customers locate special and unique items. Both women expressed their enjoyment of hunting for vintage.

“What we will have will change here daily. We look to have a friendly atmosphere with lots of good conversation,” said Penfield.

The store will be open Fridays through Sunday currently.

Catamount Traders

Thirty years ago Mike Skalski started a business cleaning out homes and estates. After purchasing a home in Ashfield 26 years ago, he began holding “Mike’s Big Tag Sale” at the annual Ashfield Fall Festival.

Once the pandemic struck and the festival was put on hold, Skalski had the opportunity arise to purchase a property on the Mohawk Trail in Shelburne Falls, the site of a former Native American gift shop.

“The whole family got into it. We just thought it would be a really cool thing to do,” said Skalski.

Skalski said he especially likes to look for items that embody both art and functionality.

“This is how people had to live. Some put a lot more effort into it,” he said describing items such as a chicken scale from the early 1800s that had highly crafted blacksmith work involved. “The place is full of utilitarian items like this,” he said.

He gave another example of two “toasters” from the early 1800s that were blacksmith-created wheels with a handle that was placed over coals to toast bread. One is straight-forward and the other artistically crafted.

Skalski said he has a long, high shelf in his home spanning a couple of rooms filled with “functional art. I have had friends bring over their friends just to try to guess what the purpose of the items was,” he said.

He too has seen a growing trend of younger people enjoying vintage items. “Giving someone something vintage creates more of a personal connection,” he said.

Catamount Traders has 14 vendors and Skalski said he will be expanding the size of the business in the coming year. In addition, he plans to open a small adjacent restaurant he is thinking will be a “clam shack.”

“I’m excited to see where businesses on Route 2 are going to go in the coming years,” he said.

Cris Carl is an avid local gardener, licensed therapist and certified herbalist. She is an experienced journalist who has written for the Recorder for many years. You can reach her at cstormfox57@gmail.com.


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