November is here, bringing Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays. There’s a hedge of brilliant red euonymus bushes lining our front walkway and each year, on Thanksgiving morning, we hang garlands of hundreds of tiny white lights which stay in place till the end of January. In my heart, each light represents a good wish and a prayer of thanks and gratitude for the many people, places, and the sweet simple events that make life meaningful and special throughout the year. Although 2020 has brought some unwelcome challenges to our pastoral New England community, it’s also brought a new clarity and opportunities for positive change. One of the ‘bests’ for us has been getting to know Bethel with the intention of supporting local small businesses this holiday season and beyond.

Discovering new local finds has been both fun and enlightening. Chamber Creations, Bethel’s pop-up-shop on Greenwood Avenue is for sure, a local treasure. The shop is brimming with beautiful and unique handmade items created by (about 14) local artists. Just stepping through the door is a treat for the senses. I had the pleasure of talking with three of the shop’s artisans: Wendy Smith of Send A Smile, Carol Gibson of Creative Photography by Carol, and Ruth Kelch of Gemini Dream Jewelry. They shared the joy they feel in their work, explaining that each one-of-a-kind piece is infused with love and passion for their craft, and I could feel it, too. Shopping at the pop-up-shop supports the expression of each artist from the inside out. Indeed, there is something for everyone and every budget. A stop into Chamber Creations is a pleasantly warm and personal shopping experience. Be sure not to miss this one! They will stay open until the end of December.

Wendy Smith's Send A for every occasion, or just because.
Pop Up Shop's Gemini Dreams Jewelry. Something sparkly by Ruth Kelch

Up Greenwood Avenue a bit you’ll find Patricia’s Presents, another wonderful Bethel gift boutique owned by warm and welcoming Patricia Polk. The window display immediately invokes curiosity and draws you inside the shop to find eclectic, carefully selected, and truly lovely things. Every inch of space is covered and beautifully arranged.  Colorful and distinctive clothing pieces caught my eye, as well as the wall of pillows featuring many sweet-faced dog breeds that made me smile. If you’re looking for animal-themed or whimsical gifts for every occasion (or for yourself) you will more than likely find something really special at Patricia’s.

Patricia's Presents...These sweet faces draw you in to take a closer look.

On the other side of Greenwood, next to the Methodist Church, you’ll find Gather Boutique. Sue Tully, the shop’s owner, offers a carefully curated selection of decorative pieces for every room of the home. ‘Gather’ is housed in a meticulously restored Victorian era residence befitting of the beautiful things found inside. The colors are soft and pleasing, with elements of stone, metal, wood, and textiles that would complement any décor. Sue talked a little bit about house restoration work she has done, which led to her vision of Gather Boutique. Her restoration work included interior design, and her flare for creating warmth and comfort is apparent. From wall art, mantel and hearth focal pieces, and kitchen and nursery items, you’ll find something perfect at Gather, and at an affordable price. In addition to her shop, Sue offers personal home design services. Visit her website for online shopping and more information.

Discovering Bethel is fun, personally enriching, and more important than ever before. Our businesses are the heartbeat of our community. 2020 has surely been quite a year! As we continue to stay safe and close to home these next few months, there’s a perfect opportunity to step out, make your own local discoveries…and make sure you share them with others. There are so many wonderful people, places, and experiences that make Bethel the place we love to call home. November is the month of Thanksgiving, and November 28th is Small Business Saturday. Remember that gratitude is an attitude. By giving back and supporting local, we can and will thrive together.

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