80 The Common, Chester, Vt. 05143
Facebook: Sharon’s Shawls, Sharon’s on the Common (@sharonshawlsandscarves), The Forgotten Woman (@wearableartforyou)
Owner Sharon Baker is in the midst of a transition. Her women’s clothing and unique fiber and artisan craft store located just off the common in Chester is going through a name change. What was once “Country on the Common” is now officially “Sharon’s on the Common,” although she’s still waiting for her sign to be finished and installed, which should happen in another six to eight weeks.
The name change was a necessary step according to Baker who says customers would walk in the door and immediately blurt out, “This isn’t a country store.” Other customers who knew and loved her shop could never seem to remember the name and instead would refer their friends to “Sharon’s.”
Transition though is nothing new to Baker, who opened her shop May 1, 2010, carrying clothing and fashion from around the world. Eight years later, and 30 percent of her inventory is now made of shawls and scarves that she has made herself. In fact, you can find her sewing her creations behind the counter whenever she’s not busy helping customers in her shop.
Back in 2013, Baker was on the brink of closing her doors when she purchased shawls that she loved from India that were too expensive to carry. She came up with her own pattern that allowed for easy movement and began cutting and sewing her unique creations, mixing fabrics and patterns together. In the five years since she made her first one, she has made and sold about 900 of what are known as “Sharon’s Shawls.” Her shawls span the seasons, made from gorgeous material she now sources directly from India and other countries, and include wools, rayon, cotton, and new this summer, terry cloth, which “are perfect for the beach, and look very stylish over a bathing suit.”
She expanded her offerings and also makes gorgeous infinity scarves with material left over from her shawls. She’s also designed fingerless mittens she calls “hobo hand-warmers.” Other items in the store include hats, mittens, and hand-knit sweaters, as well as decorative art pieces, all made by local artisans.
Particularly meaningful for Baker is that Sharon’s Shawls are striking a cord with women who have physical issues that make ordinary clothing difficult. It’s a personal mission for Baker, who lost her own sister to cancer two years ago. She recalled a customer who stood in front of the mirror with tears saying, “I have cancer and these make me feel beautiful.” According to Baker, “I have never forgotten those words.” She sells her shawls and scarves at Rutland Regional Medical Center’s gift shop and donates those proceeds to the Foley Cancer Center in support of the cause. That has also resulted in Baker establishing a Facebook page called The Forgotten Woman, which is dedicated to those women who have endured the ravages of disease. “I’m on a journey,” said Baker.
Sharon’s on the Common is open daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.