BENNINGTON -- The first snow of the season fell in town on Friday, but for those of us who aren't ready to get into the holiday spirit, local businesses on Main Street may have ju st the thing.
Visitors from out of town lingered in local shops on Saturday, buying for friends and family -- and sometimes for themselves.
Michael Roy and Jeanne Gauthier have been open for business at The Owl's Nest, 353 Main St., for just four months, but already they have a busy store -- and town feels like home for the Massachusetts natives.
"It's an adventure," said Roy, an auctioneer who travels New England, searching estate sales and auction houses for the perfect items. "Everything we find -- we buy it because we like it."
Recent items that have found their way to the cozy shop include vintage clothing and furs, vintage jewelry and vinyl records.
"We're expanding our gift base for the holiday season," said Gauthier, of the store shared by the business partners. "We'll have more handmade items and Christmas decor."
The warmly lit space leaves plenty of room to explore their many antiques. Gauthier offers full upholstery services, as well as wreath-making and pillows.
A holiday open house is planned The Owl's Next from Dec. 6 to 8, during regular business hours (Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.). There will be food and mulled cider for holiday shoppers.
"The nice thing about antique shops is that it's a nice way to connect with people. By giving them something personal you are able to show them that you really know them, and share memories from the past," said Gauthier.
Gift certificates are available, as is a layaway option for larger items.
"It's all about well-wishing, and creating that spirit for people," said Gauthier, noting that a non-corporate experience is often better. "We'd like someone to be able to get that special gift without having to settle."
For specific antique books or records, call the store and they will help locate items that aren't currently for sale.
For non-antique gift items, head across the street to Catbird Studio, at 332 Main, where Sarah Dole and her mother Claudia offer a selection of items from Africa, India and Asia.
"We have a variety of items here from other countries, and we get new shipments all the time," said Claudia.
An extensive assortment of unique handmade papers are displayed on the wall in the back, embossed or embroidered for artistic purposes.
"She specializes in international handmade paper and cards," said Claudia of her daughter, who has traveled extensively abroad.
In their 18th year of business, Catbird Studio also offers glassware, natural wood items and candles. Stop in and you might be greeted by Moshi, a fuzzy black cat who was named for a town in Africa, or one of his brothers.
Store hours at Catbird Studio are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a sweeter gift, head just a few doors down to the Village Chocolate Shoppe, at 471 Main St., where the Monte family makes homemade chocolates and candies.
"We make all our chocolate in small batches, with very few preservatives, so we know they're the freshest quality," said Sherry Monte. "That's what people expect from us."
Her brother Ken and father Nick are the chocolatiers in the family, making special gift platters of their popular truffles for the holidays.
"We're looking to get through Thanksgiving first," said their sister, noting that gifts trays of chocolates and fudge are a common request from those going to visit family before Christmas time.
The Village Chocolate Shoppe also offers gift certificates, as well as online and mail-order shopping.
Look for extended holiday hours soon, current store hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
For the nurse on your list, stop in NurseRX, 447 Main St., where their ‘grand opening' banner still hangs.
Owner Lisa Whitman carries a full line of scrubs and nursing apparel, and plans to carry a variety of gifts specially designed for nurses including ornaments and clocks.
Current store hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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