To the Editor:
Gary and I left lower Manhattan 21 years ago for up-island Martha’s Vineyard, and a dream to raise our twin sons by the sea. Many of our city friends were artists, cobblers, jewelers, potters, blacksmiths, and furniture designers. After hosting numerous holiday sales at our fourth-floor walkup loft, it seemed natural to bring their wares along with us to our new lives on the Vineyard.
“We’re going to open a store,” I said to my good friend Carly Simon. “Oh, great idea. I’m in!” she replied with her usual enthusiasm, and Midnight Farm was born.
An empty 5,000-square-foot space, former home of Shirley’s Hardware, sat at the rear of what was then the A&P in Vineyard Haven. It was off the beaten path, certainly far from attractive with low ceilings and fluorescent lighting, but its huge windows allowed a peek at the incoming ferry, and we recognized its potential. The renovations began.
Midnight Farm opened in 1997. We built a stone wall counter, found some antique pink columns from India, and made dressing rooms from old screen doors. It hardly took long to fill the space, and soon music, candles, and mango lime salsa helped to create an “at home” vibe. People came to shop, but equally important, they came to “hang.” The space at times resembled more of a salon than a retail store. Sofas and leather chairs, reclaimed benches and beds all screamed, “Come, stay, sit, lie down, talk, read, listen to music, mingle, stick around.”
Poets read poems, authors signed books, musicians played impromptu shows (thank you, Carly, Ben, Sally, John, and David, for some of the most magical evenings ever), and there were too many trunk shows to recall. Carly wrote a children’s book called “Midnight Farm.” Another book, called “Potluck at Midnight Farm,” was published. Soon I was designing people’s homes and a certain Midnight Farm look was moving beyond the store.
When I lost my lease five years ago, I was not quite ready to close the doors, and was determined to keep Midnight Farm alive and in Vineyard Haven, a town I had grown to love. Fortunately, 44 Main Street, former home to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, was vacant, and with great enthusiasm, I decided to give the store a new home. The windows were smaller, but the ceilings were higher, there were two floors instead of one, and if you peeked from the second-floor window, you could still catch a glimpse of that ferry coming into the harbor. Four years have gone by in an instant, and it is with bittersweet feelings that I now must close the doors for good.
I would never have had such a good run with a “job” I adored if it were not for Carly Simon. She was more than a “partner,” more than a “friend” of the Farm; she was its biggest cheerleader and fan, and I remain hers. Other supporters without whom there would be no store are Ron and Amy Guttman, Judy and John Hannon, Linda Lipsett and Jules Bernstein, and Richard Kolhier. Your unwavering support and friendship goes above and beyond.
Thanks also to my boys, Jules and Noah, for letting me do what I loved. My supportive family, thank you.
My staff — there have been many — have become like family. Particular shout-outs to Scott, Kate, Cecily, and Dana. You made work fun, interesting, and brought laughter daily; as a team we accomplished so much. Kim,at VTM, you have been there since Day One; you are amazing.
To all our customers over the past 20 years, THANK YOU for supporting Midnight Farm and shopping local, and thank you for your friendship. You have enriched my life on the Vineyard more than you know.
And finally, to the town of Vineyard Haven, with the incredibly tireless and hardest-working shop owners I know, thank you for being there, being you, staying strong, and remaining open for business.
Midnight Farm will close on Dec. 31. I will embark on new projects and new beginnings, but the memories from Midnight Farm will stay with me forever.