Irene-damaged merchant reopens in village
by Mike Eldred
Nov 21, 2012 | 2111 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stephanie Kaufman is ready to welcome customers back to her store.
Stephanie Kaufman is ready to welcome customers back to her store.
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WILMINGTON- Another one of Wilmington’s downtown businesses, damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, has made a comeback.

Hayseed Gifts, a West Main Street fixture for more than a decade, recently reopened more than a year after the flood that swept through the village, decimating the town’s business district.

Stephanie Kaufman, who owns Hayseed Gifts with her husband Chris Donnelly, says she wasn’t allowed in the building for several days after the flood. When she finally was allowed inside, she discovered that 90% of her stock had been destroyed. “I was the last one they let in,” Kaufman recalls. “Then they said the building was tilted on its foundation and wouldn’t let me back in.”

Although the building’s foundation was stabilized shortly afterward, it took almost a year before the building was ready to be reoccupied. Kaufman’s landlord owns several commercial properties in the flood zone, and hers was one of the last to be finished.

Kaufman has run the business for about 20 years, starting in Dover and moving to Wilmington about 10 years ago. She says she took full advantage of her first break in two decades. “I slept,” she says. “I slept the whole winter away.”

But Kaufman says she did manage to come out of hibernation long enough to attend the New York City Toy Fair – something she has wanted to do for years, but couldn’t because the event is held during the winter.

As a result, the newly reopened Hayseed Gifts carries some of the latest new toys. One of the most popular toys on the shelf is the Kendama, a Japanese-designed toy similar to the “ball and cup” toys of the past, but with a twist. With Kendama, the player not only catches the captive ball with one of two cups, there’s also the much more difficult task of spearing the ball on a wooden “spike.” To make it even more difficult, the cone-shaped receiver in the ball is on the opposite side of the string that tethers it to the handle – so the player has to flip the ball over to catch it on the spike. Depending on the player’s coordination, it’s either hours of fun, or hours of frustration.

Kaufman says there’s something for everyone at Hayseed, including jewelry, souvenirs, decorative items, maple syrup, and specialty food items. One table is covered with colorful reasonably-priced Scottish cashmere scarves. Soon the store will also carry a line of pottery, she says, and sleds for winter.

During the winter season, Kaufman says Hayseed Gifts is usually open from 10 am to 5 pm every day. During quieter times, she usually doesn’t open until after lunch.

For the next couple of weeks Kaufman is also taking orders for Christmas wreaths to be delivered by December 1. Two sizes, 12” and 24”, are available. The wreaths can also be ordered by callingKaufman at (802) 464-5831 or (802) 464-9740.
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