Saxton Rivers Artisans moves into Bellows Falls

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Saxtons River Artisans Cooperative has moved to Bellows Falls, Vt. They are now located at 28 The Square, Downtown Bellows Falls. Their doors opened to the public Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Established in 1975 by Mary Hepburn, the art teacher at the Vermont Academy, the business was formerly called The Jelly Bean Tree. It operated out of Main Street Arts in Saxtons River, Vt.

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The cooperative dedicated a plaque to their founder, Mary Hepburn. Photo by Kristine M. Burpee

When Main Street Arts did their renovation in 2013, The Jelly Bean Tree moved to 26B Main Street in Saxtons River next to the Saxtons River Inn and Village Market where they occupied their own space. Their move to a new location motivated the name change.

Jennifer Meehl, president of the executive board, said, “Although we are sad to no longer be in Saxtons River, we hope for better business in Bellows Falls. We want to attract younger people to carry on the tradition as artists and keep the cooperative alive.”

Carolyn Harris, a member and volunteer, said the River Artisans is the longest continual artisan cooperative in the state of Vermont. The co-op’s members handcraft the inventory.

Opportunity to join the board is available and if interested you can stop in for details. They will be accepting new members in Oct. 2017 through a jury process.

In the new storefront, customers can find pottery, woodworking, leather works, fabrics, decorative glassware, note cards, children’s clothing and stuffed friends, mixed media, and marbling.

The cooperative has also worked with schools and students of all ages by displaying kids’ art in the windows.  They have tag sales and specials, and they acknowledge an artist of the month. An open house celebration has been mentioned but not yet established.

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