Vineyard Holiday Shop needs a home

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A display of Linnsational Chocolates at a previous year's Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop. —Susan Safford

For over 20 years, the Vineyard Holiday Shop, a pop-up holiday shop in Vineyard Haven, has been a beacon of business for local artists and crafters in the off-season. This year, however, they can’t find a spot, and time is a factor.

The Vineyard Holiday Shop usually opens the weekend before Thanksgiving, and stays open for about six weeks until Christmas. They’ve spent the past six years at Brian Hall’s store on Spring Street, Vineyard Haven, an ideal space that’s now unavailable due to year-round renters. Before that, they were at Fiddlehead Farm and Hillside Farm, locations that couldn’t quite keep in the heat. So now, these home workshop artisans are in search of a new place, something preferably in Vineyard Haven center.

“It’s the year-round town,” owner and artist Rachel Austin of Austin Designs told The Times. “It’s the one and only town with an active port and hotel in the off-season, so it draws in the most weekenders and off-Island people.”

“I can’t tell you the number of people who stumble in and go, ‘Oh, this is my first time here,’” artist and business owner Marie Meyer-Barton of Leather Treasures said. “Main Street, Vineyard Haven, is key.”

But that’s not to say the shop isn’t open to setting up in other towns or locations. They just need a spot, and more important, they need community support.

“I’ve run into a lot of opposition,” Theresa Berryman-Childs of Let There Bee Light said. “A lot of people have spaces to rent, but they don’t want to rent for a short period of time.”

Renters also don’t want to deal with the potential wear and tear on their seasonal spot. “We take on all the expenses like heating, electricity, and we bring our own insurance,” Ms. Austin said. “For people who aren’t interested in getting involved, it’s really minimal involvement.”

Competition also brings about opposition, but these businesswomen don’t look at it like that. “We want to work with our neighbors,” Ms. Austin said. “We offer an opportunity to help fill up Main Street in the off-season. I think most people would prefer to see that than not.”

While trying to get situated this season, the Vineyard Holiday Shop is eventually looking to work out an annual deal with a seasonal business and its empty winter storefront.

“They’d make a month’s worth of rent, there’s exposure to their own building, and they could have product for sale,” Ms. Austin said. “People expect you to be in a certain place every year, so we’re ultimately trying to accomplish that.”

Over 20 local artisans participate, and for many of them, this is their only off-season business. But beyond sales, they’re also in it for the community.

“Every artist donates something to a raffle basket, and then we pick a charity each year,” Ms. Meyer-Barton said. “We give back to the community just by our presence.”

For more information on the Vineyard Holiday Shop, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Vineyard-Holiday-Gift-Shop. For business inquiries, contact Marie Meyer-Barton at collenemariem@yahoo.com.