Gifts

Co-op Connection Featured Business–Addison West

With Mother’s Day and graduation just around the corner, we’re excited to shine a bright light on one of the newest local businesses to join our Co-op Connection lineup — Addison West! This new shop nestled in the heart of downtown Middlebury offers a skillfully curated lineup of new and vintage items intended to excite and inspire, and they offer a sweet deal for card-carrying Co-op member-owners! Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind this new venture and the folks who bring it to life:

 

What began as a holiday pop-up in the space at 44 Main Street previously occupied by Community Barn Ventures has since evolved into a full-fledged home design, decor, and lifestyle shop featuring an enticing lineup of gifts, furniture, jewelry, lighting, artwork, and other kitchen and home decor. By November of 2022, Community Barn Ventures had relocated to the Old Stone Mill in Frog Hollow, and Monique Bonner seized the opportunity to change course from a decades-long career as a tech marketing executive to fulfill a lifelong dream of running a retail shop. Bonner officially launched Addison West on her 50th birthday, drawing on her previous experience redesigning and renovating countless bathrooms, kitchens, condos, and homes and fulfilling a passion for connecting people with the spaces and things they love. 

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

Bonner particularly enjoys showcasing the work of local makers, artists, and artisans, so you’ll find among her skillfully curated collection many locally-crafted items including artwork by Addison County’s own E.J. Bartlett and Christiana Hodges (of Sunrise Orchard’s fame!). She also has a particular passion for bringing together things both old and new, sharing in an Addison Independent article her love of “mixing new with vintage, things that have history. That’s a huge part of my philosophy on home design and decorating. I also love that buying vintage or antique items and furniture for your home is another way for us to think and act sustainably.” 

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

As for the name Addison West, Bonner shares on her website that, “well, most simply, we live on West Street in Addison County in Vermont. Addison County is a remarkable area. It’s an area grounded in the earth and landscape. It’s surrounded by mountains, full of farms and dairy cows and amazing, resilient, people. And the idea of the West has always seemed to inspire exploration, new places, the undiscovered. So our ethos is all about the grounded, the historical, the foundational, and at the same time inhabiting the magic of what’s new and what’s possible.”

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

When you visit the flagship store in the heart of Middlebury’s downtown, you’ll likely meet Head of Operations Bibiana DeSouza Schott. Bibi enjoys engaging with customers to help them find that perfect item, and also leads Addison West’s technical design work. As for Bonner, she finds herself busy these days preparing a second location, which is slated to open later this month in Waitsfield. Her hope for this larger space is to house more furniture and other large-scale items that are difficult to showcase in the 700-square-foot space in Middlebury. The Waitsfield location will also serve as the headquarters for the e-commerce arm of Addison West, which accounts for about 15% of the business, so be sure to visit their website to explore the full range of offerings. And if you’re having trouble deciding which items are right for you and your space, keep in mind that Addison West offers interior decorating services! Their blog offers a wealth of design inspiration, as well!

Bibiana DeSouza Schott and Monique Bonner behind the counter at Addison West. Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

The overarching goal for Addison West, according to their website is “to have people feel grounded and great. Great about their spaces. Great about their homes, their lives, and their gifts – both what they give to themselves and what they give to others. We really want to inspire people to embrace the best of what they have, while at the same time encouraging them to try new, to mix things up.” As part of their participation in the Co-op Connection program, they generously offer a 10% discount to Co-op member-owners, so consider this your formal invitation to visit Addison West and explore all that they have to offer! Whether you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift, graduation gift, or simply looking for fresh inspiration for your own home, we think you’ll find what you’re looking for at Addison West!

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

 

 

Spotlight on Grace & Miss Mouse

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on a local family-run soap company hailing from Bellows Falls, VT, known as Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps! All of Grace & Miss Mouse’s soaps and bath bombs are 20% off for member-owners from December 2nd – 8th — just in time to pick up a few stocking stuffers! Read on to learn more about the mother-daughter team that brings you these body care products and the inspiration behind their unique scents and product names:

Over 15 years ago Judy Lidie’s eldest daughter treated her to a special birthday trip to an inn and spa nestled in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont, which would ultimately spark the inspiration for Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps. While enjoying her stay at the inn, Judy fell in love with the little handmade soaps they offered, which smelled amazing and made her skin feel softer than she’d ever felt. She knew right away that she had to learn to make her own soap and began her quest immediately upon returning home. She bought books on soap making and spent countless hours reading, researching, and experimenting through good old trial-and-error with friends and family who were willing to help her test and adjust her recipes until she felt satisfied that she’d made the perfect bar. She decided to name the company after her greatest inspiration, her granddaughter Grace. 

Judy’s cold-process soaps are made in small batches right here in Vermont using only the highest quality ingredients. Each bar is hand-cut and produces plenty of lather that is kind to the skin and never drying. The unique and cleverly-named scents are long-lasting, but never overpowering. And they leave your skin feeling every bit as soft and luxurious as those initial spa bars that Judy first fell in love with 15 years ago. After her first few years in business, Judy began expanding her product line to include colorful, fragrant bath bombs and other fun body care products.

For the first 12 years that she was in business, Judy was a one-woman show, handling all aspects of the business while also working a “day job” and raising her three daughters with her husband Roy. She was eventually able to take early retirement from her job and, for the past three years, Judy is thrilled to have her daughters and her husband helping out with the soap business, allowing her to expand production and enjoy a lot more family time while doing the work that she loves. Her eldest daughter Jessica makes all the bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bubble bars, and does a lot of the labeling and shipping, Middle daughter Danielle (usually known as DL) makes all of their beautiful soaps, and Michelle, the baby, creates their labels and all company forms. Husband Roy handles the large deliveries throughout Vermont and picks up the oils and lye needed to make their products. Roy also custom-built all of their wood soap molds, their bath bomb press, and handles all shop maintenance. That leaves Judy to handle all of the accounting, billing, purchasing, inventory, and customer service. 

We were curious to know the inspiration behind the clever names and scents like Little Black Dress, Hippy Dippy, Dragonfly, and IPA Suds. According to Judy, “some of the names originated with off the cuff comments one of us said when we smelled a new fragrance, some of them are just good old traditional names, and some are named after family members, like Missy Shell (Michelle), Biker Chick (named after Jessica, who is an avid bicyclist), and Amazing Grace, after the namesake of the company, my only granddaughter, Grace Elizabeth.” When asked about the family favorites, Judy says, “it’s hard to pick one favorite! I love Honey Comb, Champagne Sparkle, and Holly Jolly. Jessica loves Biker Chick and Holly Jolly. Danielle loves Sweet Pea & Rhubarb and Michelle loves Missy Shell!

We hope you’ll try them all and let us know your favorites!

 

 

Spotlight on Grace & Miss Mouse

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on a local family-run soap company hailing from Bellows Falls, VT, known as Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps! All of Grace & Miss Mouse’s soaps and bath bombs are 20% off for member-owners from December 2nd – 8th — just in time to pick up a few stocking stuffers! Read on to learn more about the mother-daughter team that brings you these body care products and the inspiration behind their unique scents and product names:

Over 15 years ago Judy Lidie’s eldest daughter treated her to a special birthday trip to an inn and spa nestled in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont, which would ultimately spark the inspiration for Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps. While enjoying her stay at the inn, Judy fell in love with the little handmade soaps they offered, which smelled amazing and made her skin feel softer than she’d ever felt. She knew right away that she had to learn to make her own soap and began her quest immediately upon returning home. She bought books on soap making and spent countless hours reading, researching, and experimenting through good old trial-and-error with friends and family who were willing to help her test and adjust her recipes until she felt satisfied that she’d made the perfect bar. She decided to name the company after her greatest inspiration, her granddaughter Grace. 

Judy’s cold-process soaps are made in small batches right here in Vermont using only the highest quality ingredients. Each bar is hand-cut and produces plenty of lather that is kind to the skin and never drying. The unique and cleverly-named scents are long-lasting, but never overpowering. And they leave your skin feeling every bit as soft and luxurious as those initial spa bars that Judy first fell in love with 15 years ago. After her first few years in business, Judy began expanding her product line to include colorful, fragrant bath bombs and other fun body care products.

For the first 12 years that she was in business, Judy was a one-woman show, handling all aspects of the business while also working a “day job” and raising her three daughters with her husband Roy. She was eventually able to take early retirement from her job and, for the past three years, Judy is thrilled to have her daughters and her husband helping out with the soap business, allowing her to expand production and enjoy a lot more family time while doing the work that she loves. Her eldest daughter Jessica makes all the bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bubble bars, and does a lot of the labeling and shipping, Middle daughter Danielle (usually known as DL) makes all of their beautiful soaps, and Michelle, the baby, creates their labels and all company forms. Husband Roy handles the large deliveries throughout Vermont and picks up the oils and lye needed to make their products. Roy also custom-built all of their wood soap molds, their bath bomb press, and handles all shop maintenance. That leaves Judy to handle all of the accounting, billing, purchasing, inventory, and customer service. 

We were curious to know the inspiration behind the clever names and scents like Little Black Dress, Hippy Dippy, Dragonfly, and IPA Suds. According to Judy, “some of the names originated with off the cuff comments one of us said when we smelled a new fragrance, some of them are just good old traditional names, and some are named after family members, like Missy Shell (Michelle), Biker Chick (named after Jessica, who is an avid bicyclist), and Amazing Grace, after the namesake of the company, my only granddaughter, Grace Elizabeth.” When asked about the family favorites, Judy says, “it’s hard to pick one favorite! I love Honey Comb, Champagne Sparkle, and Holly Jolly. Jessica loves Biker Chick and Holly Jolly. Danielle loves Sweet Pea & Rhubarb and Michelle loves Missy Shell!

We hope you’ll try them all and let us know your favorites!

 

 

Spotlight on Plymouth Artisan Cheese

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on a family-run cheese factory hailing from the hills of Plymouth, Vermont known as Plymouth Artisan Cheese! From November 26th – December 1st, member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on our full line of Plymouth cheeses, many of which are wax-dipped making them ideal for mailing to friends and family hoping for a taste of Vermont this holiday season. Read on to explore the rich history of the second-oldest functioning cheese-making facility in the country and the family that revived its age-old cheesemaking traditions:

 

Plymouth cheese was first founded in 1890 by Colonel John Coolidge, father of President Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. The factory still occupies the original building constructed in 1890 by Colonel John Coolidge, who created Plymouth Cheese to turn extra milk on his dairy farm into a product with a longer shelf life. Located on the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, for more than 125 years, it is the second oldest functioning cheese factory in the country. The recipe used by Coolidge was consistent with the typical granular curd recipe that the first European settlers brought with them in the 1600s.

The Plymouth Cheese Factory, located on the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, VT. Photo by Jack Daryl Photography.

The dairy farm remained in the Coolidge family for several generations until 2009 when cheesemaker and Vermont native Jesse Werner fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing the business. Jesse is a graduate of the Vermont Institute of Artisanal Cheese (VIAC) at the University of Vermont where he studied the craft including chemistry, microbiology, cultures, and artisanal cheese design. He went on to apprentice with Marc Andre St. Yves of Fromager Conseil ENC/INTERNATIONAL. When the opportunity to take over arose, Jesse jumped.

Jesse then embarked on the momentous task of reviving the Plymouth Cheese Factory and that original 1890’s granular curd cheese recipe, which he found while bringing the antique cheese factory and its equipment back to life.  The revamped facility houses the complete cheesemaking process with all production, storage, waxing, and aging occurring right there on campus. To craft their cheeses, Plymouth Artisan Cheese uses only the finest, pasture-raised raw cow’s milk, free of additives, antibiotics, and rBST. The milk is sourced from a single dairy herd from a sustainable, seventh-generation family farm 40 minutes up the road from the Coolidge homestead. The rich, open-bodied texture of granular curd cheese requires skillful cutting and continuous stirring of the curds — an artform that Jesse is proud to practice. Paying homage to traditional cheesemaking techniques, Plymouth Cheese continues to hand-dip many of its cheeses in colorful wax — the way it was done over 125 years ago on the Plymouth homestead.

Jesse runs the business with the support of his brilliant wife, Sarit, who has a strong background in Graphic Design as the former head graphic artist for Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label. Sarit is responsible for designing the brand and packaging, with its signature vintage brass cheese stencils and period typography.  She also manages Plymouth Artisan Cheese’s Marketing, Sales, and social media presence. In true family business fashion, Jesse’s parents pitch in by bringing the cheese to the people and supporting backend operations. Together with their team members, Jesse and family are keeping the Plymouth tradition alive, producing cheese that is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate.

Today, Plymouth is the closest cheese you can find to the blocks that graced the kitchen tables of America’s first farmers. Their lineup includes eight vibrantly colored waxed-block variations of the original Plymouth recipe and two cave-aged wheels (a washed rind called Grace’s Choice and a Tomme de Savoie-style called Plymouth Tomme). Three of their waxed blocks — Sage & Herbs, Original, and Hot Pepper have earned coveted awards from the American Cheese Society.

The public is invited to visit the Plymouth Cheese Factory, which is open daily from 11-4 for self-guided tours to explore the historic factory and observe Jesse and his assistants as they create Plymouth Cheese. More often than not, Jesse will come out and wax poetic about his beloved craft. In addition to their factory store, they also have a charming museum and education center on the second floor that takes patrons back in time to experience the history of cheesemaking in Vermont. They are confident that once you have tasted their cheeses you will appreciate and understand their obsessive attention to detail and passion for preserving and growing the natural working landscapes here in Vermont.

Spotlight on Grace & Miss Mouse

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on a local family-run soap company hailing from Bellows Falls, VT, known as Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps! All of Grace & Miss Mouse’s soaps and bath bombs are 20% off for member-owners from May 6th – 12th — just in time to pick up something sweet for the mamas in your lives! Read on to learn more about the mother-daughter team that brings you these body care products and the inspiration behind their unique scents and product names:

Over 15 years ago Judy Lidie’s eldest daughter treated her to a special birthday trip to an inn and spa nestled in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont, which would ultimately spark the inspiration for Grace & Miss Mouse Soaps. While enjoying her stay at the inn, Judy fell in love with the little handmade soaps they offered, which smelled amazing and made her skin feel softer than she’d ever felt. She knew right away that she had to learn to make her own soap and began her quest immediately upon returning home. She bought books on soap making and spent countless hours reading, researching, and experimenting through good old trial-and-error with friends and family who were willing to help her test and adjust her recipes until she felt satisfied that she’d made the perfect bar. She decided to name the company after her greatest inspiration, her granddaughter Grace. 

Judy’s cold-process soaps are made in small batches right here in Vermont using only the highest quality ingredients. Each bar is hand-cut and produces plenty of lather that is kind to the skin and never drying. The unique and cleverly-named scents are long-lasting, but never overpowering. And they leave your skin feeling every bit as soft and luxurious as those initial spa bars that Judy first fell in love with 15 years ago. After her first few years in business, Judy began expanding her product line to include colorful, fragrant bath bombs and other fun body care products.

For the first 12 years that she was in business, Judy was a one-woman show, handling all aspects of the business while also working a “day job” and raising her three daughters with her husband Roy. She was eventually able to take early retirement from her job and, for the past three years, Judy is thrilled to have her daughters and her husband helping out with the soap business, allowing her to expand production and enjoy a lot more family time while doing the work that she loves. Her eldest daughter Jessica makes all the bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bubble bars, and does a lot of the labeling and shipping, Middle daughter Danielle (usually known as DL) makes all of their beautiful soaps, and Michelle, the baby, creates their labels and all company forms. Husband Roy handles the large deliveries throughout Vermont and picks up the oils and lye needed to make their products. Roy also custom-built all of their wood soap molds, their bath bomb press, and handles all shop maintenance. That leaves Judy to handle all of the accounting, billing, purchasing, inventory, and customer service. 

We were curious to know the inspiration behind the clever names and scents like Little Black Dress, Hippy Dippy, Dragonfly, and IPA Suds. According to Judy, “some of the names originated with off the cuff comments one of us said when we smelled a new fragrance, some of them are just good old traditional names, and some are named after family members, like Missy Shell (Michelle), Biker Chick (named after Jessica, who is an avid bicyclist), and Amazing Grace, after the namesake of the company, my only granddaughter, Grace Elizabeth.” When asked about the family favorites, Judy says, “it’s hard to pick one favorite! I love Honey Comb, Champagne Sparkle, and Holly Jolly. Jessica loves Biker Chick and Holly Jolly. Danielle loves Sweet Pea & Rhubarb and Michelle loves Missy Shell!

We hope you’ll try them all and let us know your favorites!

 

 

Featured Co-op Connection Business- Wild Mountain Thyme

Warmer weather is finally here! If you’re putting away your flannel and wool to find there’s not much left in your closet, we invite you to check out Wild Mountain Thyme! They’re a part of our Co-op Connection program (they were one of the original businesses to participate in this program!) and they offer a 5% discount to card-carrying Co-op member-owners! 

This funky, iconic Main Street shop was first opened by the late Allen Israel in 1971. His partner Paula Israel came on board in 1976 and has been running the show ever since. The store has been a fixture of downtown Middlebury since the very beginning, offering an eclectic and well-curated mix of clothing for women and children, jewelry, art, gifts, and decor. But, perhaps the best thing about this store is the people behind the counter. Paula, Jen, and Kitty create a fun, friendly atmosphere that keeps loyal local customers coming back. One enters the store as a customer and leaves feeling like an old friend.

When asked to share their favorite thing about working in the store, Jen says its “absolutely the people. It’s such a pleasure to get to know our customers and help them find what they’re looking for. And I also adore my co-workers. We make such a great team and we have a lot of fun together.” Owner Paula echoed these sentiments. “I’ve met all of my lifelong friends in this store. It’s a pretty special place.”

 

 

Local Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Stumped on stocking stuffers? We’ve got you covered! Here’s a handy guide to the local offerings in several departments at the Co-op!

 

In Grocery

From sweet treats to savory nibbles, the grocery department has a long list of local finds. Look for chocolates from Farmhouse Chocolates & Ice Cream, Daily Chocolate, Middlebury Chocolates, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Nutty Steph’s, and Tavernier Chocolates; caramels from Big Picture Farm and Red Kite Candy; gift-sized honey from Champlain Valley Apiaries and Lemon Fair Honeyworks; jams and chutneys from Blake Hill Preserves and V Smiley Preserves; maple syrup and maple candies from Butternut Mountain Farm, Shaker Maple Farm, Nutty Steph’s, Werner’s, Untapped, and Hillsboro Sugarworks; Meat Sticks from Vermont Smoke & Cure; and reusable sandwich wrap from Bees Wrap.

 

 

In the Bakery:

Whether you’re looking for gluten-free treats or chocolate dipped sweets, the Co-op Bakery has you covered! Look for brownies from Vermont Brownie Company and West Meadow Farm Bakery; macaroons and biscotti from Krin’s Bakery; cookies from the MNFC Deli, Vermont Moonlight Cookies, Vermont Gluten Free, and Three Bears Bakery; and bars from Best Moon Bakery, Red Door Bakery, and OWL Energy Bars.

 

 

 

In Wellness:

DIY spa and body care items make great gifts for just about anyone on your list and the wellness department is well-stocked with local treasures. Look for soaps from Wild Forest Herbals, Chasworth Farm, and Elmore Mountain Farm; bath salts from Wonderland’s Bohemian & Breathing In Wellness; aromatherapy neck, back, and eye pillows from Green Seed Herbals; tinctures, butters, and tonics from Urban Moonshine  & EOS Botanicals; arnica massage oil from Flourish Bodycare; body Butters, creams, and salves from Caroline’s Dream, Green Seed Herbals, Breathing In Wellness, Flourish Body Care, Honey, & The Orange Owl; lip balms from The Orange Owl & Caroline’s Dream; and sparkly nail polish from Nail Pattern Boldness.