By Mary McGurn
Ask most visitors if shopping for a memory of the place they visit is on their to-do lists and yeses will prevail. Though you can shop your Berkshire memory almost anywhere within the county, there is one community of merchants nestled in the very heart of the Berkshires – Lenox – where the experience of shopping will be as memorable for your group as the purchase.
As your group tours the lovely downtown Lenox here are a few spot they should not miss. If memories are destined to grace the wall of home or office, then head to photographer Scott Barrow’s Gallery for a print of his flyover photo of concert goers picnicking on Tanglewood’s lawn. This is only one of Scott’s many Berkshire photos. Lenox offers yet another gallery dedicated to photography – Sohn Fine Art. Gallery owner and photographer Cassandra Sohn offers prints of her work as well as those of other up and coming Berkshire photographers.
While on Housatonic Street, drop into The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar where a dedicated section of books written by local Berkshire writers will suit a page-turning memory. Owner Matt Tannenbaum frequently suggests Hawthorne’s Lenox and Music Under the Moon.
If collecting art also serves memories, Lenox offers the visitor numerous artist-owned galleries: Hoadley Gallery, DeVries Fine Art International, Laurie Donovan Design and Jewelz Fine Jewelry visits frequently offer opportunities for conversations with the artists themselves.
At the Hoadley Gallery discover the colored porcelain vessels of Thomas Hoadley. His pieces are collected by museums here and abroad and by the White House. Andrew DeVries’s dance and figurative bronze sculptures can be found in museums worldwide. Step inside his Gallery to select from among his smaller-scaled pieces for home or garden, as well as his framed pastels based on life drawings.
Jeweler Laurie Donovan’s Berkshire Collection engraves the Shaker Tree, a symbol of Berkshire’s Hancock Shaker Village onto 18k yellow gold and sterling silver pendants, earrings plus men and women’s rings. Jewelz’s owner Joanne Cornell has over 35 years experience in designing jewelry. Joanne designs with precious and semi-precious stones creating one-of-a-kind pieces that are classic and timeless.
If the touch and feel of a piece of material serves to bring back a memory, then Weavers Fancy and MacKimmie Co. are where to shop. Stop into Weaver’s Fancy where owner and weaver Kate Pincus is often working on her loom. Kate’s chenille wraps and cocoon coats are wearable works of art. MacKimmie Co. – an amazing source for blankets and throws to warm you or on which to spread a picnic – offers their own line of US made blankets. Shop them as well for the blankets they import from the world’s finest mills and heritage companies.
If serendipity is the preferred approach to shopping for a memory, then head to Lenox Print and Mercantile and Art and Chocolate. These two shops represent the Berkshires’ vibrant craft community – wearables, framed art, ceramics, wood and silver decorative pieces, jewelry and more.
Shopping Lenox’s 32 retail businesses and galleries is easy to plot and to pace. To help navigate the 4-street grid, the merchants offer visitors a foldout, pocket-sized brochure listing their businesses and a map showing locations. Visitors can pick up the Shop Lenox Brochure from any merchant. Multiple copies of the brochure can be mailed ahead for you to have on hand for your group.
In addition to its unique and varied shopping, Lenox is well prepared to welcome tour buses and their groups. Amenities include public restrooms at Town Hall, a centrally located Visitors Center inside the Lenox Library (which is a must-see destination in its own right) and a dozen eateries with most offering indoor and outdoor dining and choice of light fare to full course dinners. Lenox’s entire downtown is a historic district so photo opportunities abound so make sure your group has their cameras ready. One final convenience is bus parking on the campus of Shakespeare & Company – a 3-minute drive away from Lenox’s commercial district.
Lenox, it’s the Berkshire destination that wraps shopped memories around a memory of the place.