A new twist on 
Main Street business

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Last modified: 11/23/2015 6:30:24 PM
In each nook and corner of Local Share, there is something new to discover. In the front, locally sourced goods. In the back, a coffee shop with comfy chairs and tables overlooking the river. In one corner, a play area for children. And downstairs, connected to the next-door Cadmus library, a reading nook.

“We hope that if there are a lot of different reasons for people to come here, that this will become a central place,” explained Kimberly Dorn of Plowshare Farm on a tour of the new Main Street business, a few days before its official opening.

The store is parented by the Plowshare Farm, and administered by the vendors that sell their goods in the space, along with Plowshare representatives. Vendors maintain the shop for a certain amount of hours in exchange for selling their goods in a central location, instead of an hourly wage, keeping the cost of business low. In addition, 20 percent of the profit from goods sold goes to pay the costs of keeping the space.

“We’re in a unique situation, because all we have to do is cover our costs,” said Dorn. “Our big goal is to cover the $1,300 to $1,500 a month it costs to upkeep materials, our rent and our insurance. That gives us more flexibility.”

The store was formerly located in Greenfield, under the same model, but the space they were in was small with no possibility for expansion, said Dorn. Moving to Wilton not only gave the store more space, but it allowed new features — like the reading nook and coffee shop.

The coffee shop will be a by-donation venture, explained Dorn. While the shop will have a chalkboard menu with “suggested contributions” listed, the idea is for people to pay as much or as little as they can afford or think is fair.

“We want to value the products that we’re selling, but at the same time, people should feel comfortable to pay 50 cents for a cup of coffee if they need to,” explained Dorn. “This is a new model for us, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Though they will not own the space, workers from the Local Share will also begin to administer the next-door and attached Cadmus library. The Local Share’s reading room, filled with comfy chairs and plans for a book exchange, opens into the library through a connecting door, and residents will have access to the library during store hours.

Dorn also hopes to see the store become a local gathering place, hosting various workshops during their off times, some already planned. They also plan to open the space to other groups that want to offer their own education workshops or other activities — those that offer them for free will be able to use the space for free, and those that charge will have to offer to offset costs.

“We want to see, a few years down the road, this as a really warm, inviting place with people coming in and out all the time,” said Dorn.

Signs of life

Local Share is the second shop to open on Main Street recently, joining a new antiques shop on the street, showing some signs of life for Main Street, which closed three storefronts this year — Roam Cafe, Antonia’s Greek Kitchen and Pizzeria, and The Color Shop and More, where Local Share now resides. With no restaurant on Main Street, local storeowners see the addition of a coffee shop, even one open part-time, as a positive addition for the neighborhood.

“It’s a little bit of rebirth out here, and it’s encouraging,” said Dick Putnam of Putnam’s Clothing. “We wish them the best. It can’t hurt, because it’s the only cup of coffee on the street, although we still badly need a coffee shop or breakfast place. It’s a step in the right direction and we’re happy to have them.”

Doug Nelson, owner of Nelson’s Candy, agreed that there is a need for a restaurant since the closing of Roam and Antonia’s, but said the concept of Local Share’s by-donation coffee shop seemed promising as a draw.

“That’ll probably take a little time to catch on, but it seems like a good idea,” said Nelson of the Local Share. “I hope they make it.”

Nelson, who has owned his store for 23 years, said that attracting in-town customers was a must for maintaining not only the Local Share, but every business on the street, since Route 101 bypasses the town center and much out-of-town traffic isn’t drawn into the Main Street.

“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, and I don’t know how to correct it. It’s a tough one,” said Nelson.

Wilton is currently working on developing an Economic Development Committee, and is asking for input on the towns economic strengths and weaknesses via a survey posted on the town website, in an attempt to address growing the town’s economy.

The shop’s hours are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shop will hold a grand opening event this Thursday through Saturday with free samples of baked goods, candle dipping. Thursday and Saturday Garrett Cameron will be performing live music in store from 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday. Local crafters who are interested in selling their products through Local Share should contact the store in person during store hours.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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