New Energy in Falls Village
When renowned interior designer Bunny Williams arrived in Falls Village nearly four decades ago, she began to transform the village. This week she put her stamp on yet another building in the tiny village center, opening a new cooperative for regional artisans.
In one fell swoop, she transformed a deteriorating market building into a chic shopping destination and offered a consolidated outlet for the talented cadre of artisans that call the tristate region home.
Williams, who began her transformation of the town’s center with an historic home and later lent her decorating expertise to renovate the Falls Village Inn, said she had watched the market building diminish over the years. “It once was a viable market,” she said, “but all the big food chains forced it out. Then, someone bought it and rented out space but that didn’t work. The bank finally owned it and it was the final eyesore in the center with weeds growing in front of it.”
In recent years, the little enclave that is Falls Village has spruced itself up with new sidewalks, fresh plantings, and the upgrade of buildings along its Main Street. The old town hall is now home to artist’s studios, the Inn is thriving and expanding and the former Methodist Church is home to both the Falls Village Children’s Theater and the Blue Moon Café. Farther up the street, the Toymaker’s Café is a local hangout for those seeking a scrumptious breakfast and a chat over a hot cup of coffee.
“I saw the energy going on in Falls Village and I decided to do something about this building,” said Williams as she relaxed in a rocking chair on the porch of the new cooperative.
“I contacted Seth Churchill (a contractor) in Salisbury and told him I wanted two things,” she said. “I wanted a porch in front with rocking chairs and I wanted wonderful doors that would open up to invite people in. I wanted to create a cooperative for local artisans because there is no one place where you can go to find their stuff.”
Churchill soon uncovered the good bones of the building, revealing a polished cement floor under the aging tiles and spare, sculptural trusses that support the roof. He opened the front with a garage door-size entrance.
Another essential element in the plan fell into place when Williams met Christina van Hengel, a relatively new resident of the region, who has experience working with artisans on an international scale. Van Hengel’s background is in finance and fashion, having worked for the ethical womenswear collection, Maiyet, and more recently Harper’s Bazaar.
“When I was introduced to Bunny, she told me of her idea and I was really excited to be able to work with artisans locally and in such a beautiful place,” said van Hengel.
Williams said she had long been impressed by the quality and talent of regional artisans. “This needs to be a destination,” she said. “A place that’s different where you can find items you can’t get anywhere else.”
The idea seemed to catch on quickly. The normally quiet streets of the village saw a steady stream of browsers and buyers this weekend. But the influx of shoppers revealed an unexpected problem, according to Williams.
“We had one artisan bring in a dozen metal daffodils and they all sold out immediately,” she reported. “We’ve had to call artisans and ask them to bring more. But these items are not mass produced. If you sell a dozen glasses, there may not be another dozen right away. We need more artisans to contact us.”
“Having more artisans providing new merchandise will help to keep the store alive,” observed van Hengel. “We want long-term relationships with our artisans but we also want new merchandise.”
At present, more than 40 artisans are stocking the shelves of the outlet with art, furniture, ceramics, glass, textiles, jewelry and many more products.
Williams said the market will remain open year-round. “This will be a fantastic place for Christmas shopping,” she predicted, adding that she hopes the winter may also bring workshops presented by some of the artisans.
Artisans interested in showing their work at 100 Main should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
The store will be open Thursday and Friday, 10 AM-4 PM and Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM.