A holiday treasure trove appears on Spring street in Vineyard Haven each year.
A painted white sign hangs outside and beaded snowflake ornaments decorate the windows. Inside the Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop, Christmas music plays softly and a wealth of handmade creations, all crafted by Vineyarders, awaits.
Jewelry, pottery, felted animals and ornaments, aprons, pillows and chocolate-covered potato chips. Soaps, quilts and candles. Photographs and seascapes in glass ornaments. And for that impossible (or irreverent) person on the holiday list, a tiny belly button lint brush. For The Person Who Has Everything, the card reads.
This year, 25 artists are part of the mini-cooperative, which opens the week before Thanksgiving and closes at noon on Christmas Eve.
“It’s like a Santa’s workshop in here,” said Rose Campbell, behind the counter for a four-hour shift with fellow vendor Sue Fairbanks. Ms. Campbell is a first-year participant, offering tiny planters of cacti and succulents, along with a collection wampum earrings. Her father Scott has been involved for years selling his ceramics and sculptures.
Ms. Fairbanks sells jewelry and ornaments crafted with custom glass beads. She’s a regular at the summer flea markets and said one of the best parts of the store is the camaraderie among the vendors.
“At the flea market you don’t get to wander around and see what everybody else is doing,” she said.
“We always look forward to it,” said Stephanie Rossi, whose wooly felted animals greet customers as they enter the store. Mrs. Rossi began felting 17 years ago, eventually turning her sheep Rosie’s wool into a herd of tiny Rosies.
“People have been really good about shopping local, I think,” she said.
Linda Alley of New Lane Sundries has been with the gift shop for its entire existence, which spans 20 years. In the beginning there were 12 artists involved (Pat Vanderhoop, one of the original participants, still sells her beaded jewelry and knitted creations). Ms. Alley remembers Sue Silva, a flower arranger, gathering the group.
“We started off in what’s now Fiddlehead,” Ms. Alley said. “There was no bathroom, no heat, but we had so much fun, and we just made it look really great inside. It’s just evolved over the years.”
Now new artists join each year while others move away or on to new adventures.
Since those early days the shop has called a number of places home, Ms. Alley said, including the Mansion House and what is now the Dukes County Savings Bank on Main street. The group has rented its current space on Spring street for the past four years.
At the beginning of October, the shop begins to take shape, with a large group meeting. This year, Irene Fox and Marie Meyer-Barton tackled the management side of things, organizing when everyone will work their respective shifts and coordinating setup. It takes two days to transform the empty storefront into the cozy display of wares.
“What I really love is the quality and the thoughtfulness, the creativity,” Ms. Alley said. Those who are unable to decide among the shop’s choices can enter a raffle for a gift basket featuring something from all 25 artists. Proceeds benefit the Island Food Pantry.
During slow periods, the artists take time to work on new projects behind the counter. But those periods may be getting shorter as the month goes on.
“The closer it gets to Christmas, the busier we are,” said Ms. Fairbanks.
The Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop is open every day until Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.