The Local Works Marketplace is back with a new look and lots of energy as it reopens its door after a winter hiatus. Store Manager Laura Barrington says returning customers immediately notice the physical changes to the store and adjoining Gallery at WREN.
Barrington has been busy reconnecting with vendors, unpacking and pricing inventory and preparing to open. Over the last few weeks, volunteers tore out shelving that blocked light and views from the street. Jeff Stone, Manager of Littleton Lowe’s, provided paint and related supplies through their Hero Project. His Assistant Manager Ren Anderson and other volunteers gave the store a fresh coat of paint. Board members and other friends of the nonprofit organization cleaned the carpets, installed the air conditioners, stocked the shelves, hung art on the walls, and created a new gathering spot in the front room of the Gallery for members and shoppers.
WREN first opened its Main Street Bethlehem store in 2000. According to Interim Executive Director Natalie Woodroofe, the intention was to launch a social enterprise that would have a triple bottom line. “We wanted to brighten the town’s Main Street, provide a venue for WREN members to sell their products and artwork, and to provide income for the organization’s overall programming.” After nearly twenty years, over $2 million of revenue has been generated, with more than half of that going to WREN entrepreneurs. “Shoppers leave the store not only with something wonderful for themselves or others, they have also supported better lives and livelihoods for people in the region,” Woodroofe notes.
The store features a wide array of fine jewelry, artwork, pottery, bath and beauty items, rustic furniture and accessories, books, cards, turned wood items, children’s toys, and more. The Gallery at WREN is currently hosting “OPEN”, a show of work by several WREN member artists. Both the Gallery and Local Works Marketplace are currently open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Beginning Monday, July 15, they will be open seven days a week.