Pop-up shop at 34 Main in Hancock hosts an eclectic mix

  • The 34 Main Pop-up Shop in Raisa Lawrence West’s 1801 barn.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS 

  • Handmade holiday decorations at 34 Main.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • Art and vintage items in the shop. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • Raisa Lawrence Wests’s creations are scattered throughout the barn at Casa 34 Main. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • A display of eclectic holiday decor.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • Raisa Lawrence West at her weaving machine.  COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/20/2023 1:33:49 PM

Hancock’s 34 Main pop-up shop may not be exactly what someone would expect to find in a classic New England village.

Walking into the preserved 1801 barn next door to the Hancock Market, one might expect to see braided rugs, bottles of maple syrup or lampshades decorated with moose. Instead, someone would find an eclectic mix of new, vintage and antique items, from 1950s china to antique linens, and from handmade candles to hip holiday decorations. The bursts of color on textiles scattered throughout the shop are the work of 34 Main’s creator, Raisa Lawrence West, who has transformed the old barn into a treasure trove. The 34 Main Pop-Up is open every Saturday during the holiday season, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The response to the shop has been a huge surprise. We’ve been busy every second we’ve been open, ” West said while closing up the shop Saturday.

The barn, which is commercially zoned, has hosted many different businesses over the years.

“People in town remember when this was an antique shop. It’s been a lot of different things. It’s just meant to be an active part of this village,” West said. “I feel like the mix of old and new items is kind of an homage to the house and the barn, to the town, to its past ad present. It’s a historic district, but it’s also a very vibrant, active community.”

West bought the home, which she shares with her husband John and their children, in 2014. The house is directly across from the Hancock Inn, and centrally located to everything that happens in Hancock. Recently, West had to retrieve the family dog, Ica, from Fiddleheads, after Ica figured out she could wander in and get treats, and someone posted a picture of her begging on Facebook.

“My dog is being raised by the village. It’s a embarrassing. She’s gotten a little fat,” West says.

West, who was born in the Dominican Republic and is half Dominican, has always been drawn bright colors and unusual textures, shapes and patterns. Her vivid textile designs are inspired by the work of Indigenous women weavers in Peru, where Lawrence West lived for six months with her son and daughter in 2014, and by travels in the Carribean and Mexico. Both children helped out with the business as West got started -- giving opinions, occasionally modeling clothing and learning to sew. West founded her business, Raisa Antonia Studios, in 2012, with the goal of creating textiles from environmentally sourced and local fibers, including Harrisville Designs. Her first products were brightly colored ponchos, wraps and accessories. She continued developing new product lines, including pillows, bags and and home accessories.

West began to sell her products at local craft fairs, gradually moving on to large venues such as the League of NH Craftsmen annual fair at Mount Sunapee, Field and Supply craft and artisan events and finally to the juried NY Now Home and Craft events at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. West went from retail to wholesale, selling Raisa Antonia housewares in boutiques around New England. In recent years, West has seen the artisan market change as mass-market competitors have undercut small businesses and stolen market share.

“Large home goods box stores have literally come into these shows and copied artisans’ original designs and mass-produced them at a price no small business can complete with,” West said. “I’ve seen the industry change dramatically just in the past eleven years. Crafters and artisans were having a moment when I was getting started. Now if you go to the big shows, they are bringing in global companies instead of small business and artisans, and it’s all changed. Boutiques are disappearing because of online shopping. But on the bright side, there is a huge interest in thrifted items right now, in reusing things, in not consuming so many new items.”

West has pivoted with the times, focusing on online sales of her products and on the 34 Main shop. She tried a few pop-up sales in past years and was successful enough that she made the decision to be open every Saturday in the 2023 holiday season.

“I’ve just been so amazed and grateful for the support of the community,” West says. “The word has spread; people have brought their friends. I had a lady who came all the way from Vermont.”

The shop also fills an unexpected role in the neighborhood. Several neighbors have brought unusual items to West and asked her to sell them and find them new homes.

“People bring me things that are special to them, that they don’t just want to take to swap shop. One neighbor brought me a cast-iron pig and I put it out and it sold in an hour,” West said. “I’m happy to help.

Raisa Lawrence West’s  products can be found at raisaantonia.com.

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