American folk artist Pigtails, West Wardsboro’s Darlene Rutnik, will be on hand Saturday to greet attendees and discuss her art, which is on display in Eco-tique’s gallery. The gallery also currently features art from local artists Sheryl Steiger Young and Ann Coleman. Coleman, who has original works on display at Eco-tique, was the featured artist at the gallery’s grand opening and will be the guest of honor at an upcoming “Meet the Artist” event in February.
The local emphasis in the shop’s new gallery can also be felt throughout the entire store. Among the many local finds to be discovered at Eco-tique are Lyman’s jams, which owner Liz Fryer describes as “hyper local” (Lyman’s workspace is located a hop and a skip from the shop, in Mount Snow Market Place); stationery by Ellie Roden, of Wilmington; toys by Maple Landmark in Middlebury; skin care products from Beeline Skin Care of Henniker, NH; pottery by Will Finkel Pottery in Wardsboro; baking mixes by King Arthur Flour in Norwich; lotions by Adams Farm in Wilmington; pottery from Rising Meadow Pottery in Middletown Springs; soaps and lotions from Garland Goat Soap in Leicester; and granola bark by Small Batch Organics in Manchester.
There is an overall focus on handmade goods throughout the shop, with products made by individual artists and small American-based companies. In addition to having a local connection, some products even have a familial connection to Fryer — the shop sells candles made by Fryer’s sister, a retired dental assistant who Fryer says occasionally uses dental tools to carve details into her pine cone and rabbit candles.
The shop has a wine room, which features organic wines with prices ranging from $9 to $15. Throughout the entirety of Eco-tique, Fryer makes an effort to offer accessible prices, and she often makes sure she’s offering a product at a better price than it can be found somewhere else.
Fryer is happy to help shoppers package their finds into gift boxes or custom gift baskets.
“Whatever you find in the store, I will wrap it,” says Fryer. “It doesn’t matter how much you spend. I will put it in a lovely bag with lovely tissue and you can present it as a gift.”
In addition to helping shoppers find the perfect gift, Fryer recently started offering bridal registries. “Vermont brides come here and have lovely weddings and bring all of their family,” says Fryer. “I feel like having Vermont keepsakes is so special for them.”
Fryer says a unique offering of her bridal registry service is that she can get to know the bride and her tastes. “So if her aunt calls and says, I’d like to spend $200, what do you suggest, I can help because I know the tastes of the bride,” says Fryer.
Best sellers for bridal registries are a range of products from Danforth Pewter of Middlebury; woodworks by John McLeod; and flatware by Liberty Tabletop, in Sherrill, NY that is the only remaining US-based flatware producer.
Fryer bought Eco-tique’s building in July 2015, and by January 2016 had completed substantial renovations to the building and was ready to open. The year that unfolded after the shop opened bought some challenges. Eco-tique, like so many other local businesses, was not immune to slow traffic last winter, due to a relatively snowless season. Then, as summer set in, construction of Dover’s sidewalk extension began right in front of the shop, which resulted in traffic cones and construction. The sidewalk is completed now, though, and Fryer says things are picking up during this year’s snowier winter.
In addition to featuring artists in the gallery and constantly sourcing new locally-focused products, Fryer has plans to convert a back area of the store into a space dedicated to toys and treats.
For more information visit Eco-Tique’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Eco-Tique-511144102392699.