Sometimes the planets just line up, not in the fashion the doomsday folks are claiming they will on December 21, but in a good way.
I was wandering around Sherburne on Friday, doing a little Christmas shopping, and decided to stop in at the new store in town, Olde Village Mercantile (next door to China King). I'd heard that we had a new gift shop and wanted to say hello, welcome them to town, maybe pick up some stocking stuffers, etc.
What a pleasant surprise.
Walking through the door was like going back in time -- or maybe sideways -- in that I suddenly felt displaced somehow. I'd expected a brightly lit Hallmark atmosphere and found, instead, a peaceful respite from dollar stores and bargain basements. The colors were deep and rich, there was classical holiday music playing, the smells were of homemade candles, and the ambience, all in all, was delicious, full of soft lighting and beautiful hand-crafted merchandise. One of the three partners, Lee Blanchard-Excell, was behind the counter and it turns out (planets-lining-up-wise) that she is the great-grandaughter of the people who once owned my house. We chatted about her time spent where I now live, my house ghosts, and how this wonderful store ended up in downtown Sherburne.
Lee, along with her two partners Nicole Mullen and Jennifer Excell, opened a gift shop in Hubbardsville (Colchester Mercantile) in March of this year, and relocated to Sherburne in mid-October. The three have a passion for antiques and primitive decor, and admit they are happiest when being creative. "We always have our hands busy working on some sort of project," she says, "so it was a natural progression."
The truth of her words is obvious in touring the store. There are antiques, primitive and country home items, refurbished furniture, re-purposed "up-cycled" pieces, one-of-a-kind designs, small gifts, handmade soaps and toiletries, handmade candles, maple products, pieces from local artists, and much more.
When I asked her "Why Sherburne?" she answered quickly. "This is OUR community and we have a vested interest in the village. This is our home and we are privileged to share our dream with the people we have known and loved all of our lives." Lee is from Sherburne, and her partners are from Earlville. All graduated from Sherburne-Earlville school. Like others who appreciate the benefits of our small town, Lee, Nicole, and Jennifer felt a spot in Sherburne's downtown was an opportunity they just couldn't pass up.
Planets do line up indeed. Just at the time when local citizens are stepping forward to bring back the Sherburne Inn, a lovely gift shop opens a half block away. The future of Sherburne is bright when we have people like Lee and Nicole and Jennifer investing in our downtown with a beautiful shop like Olde Village Mercantile. I know I speak for many when I wish you great success, not to mention offering a big Thank You! for believing, as we do, that a revitalization of Sherburne's historic district can and must and will happen.