Chamber July 2019 Member of the Month – Village Green Gallery in Weston
Annie & Rob Aft took over the Village Green Gallery in 2015. The gallery displays contemporary art and photography from local artists and photographers. The shop offers Vermont-made fine jewelry, glass, pottery and woodenware and Christmas gift boxes.
Annie grew up next door in Landgrove, Vt., the daughter of professional author-illustrators Don and Elaine Bolognese. The Gallery includes a nonprofit initiative in memory of Annie’s mother to provide drawing classes for youth, called Elaine’s Art Club. In addition to new art, the gallery carries signed prints from Elaine’s book illustrations and original acrylics. Her style has been compared to Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and other Depression-era painters.
The gallery also serves fair trade organic coffees, espresso drinks, artisan teas and offers free wifi. They host local community meetings, drawing classes and theatre discussions for each new play at the Weston Playhouse, pop-up art shows and openings. Check their website for other news and happenings.
When asked about the best feature of their business, they both responded how great their customers say their coffee is: “It’s the best expresso around!” The coffee service also welcomes patrons who might be more intimidated by an art gallery. The free WiFi is a big draw too. Another popular feature is their front porch which has become a community hangout. Annie & Rob like for their establishment to be a community space enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Ninety percent of their customers are first time patrons so all the art is new to them. Their visitors come from all over the world! Many of their customers attend performances at the Weston Playhouse or shop at the original Vermont Country Store.
When asked if the business ever faced a challenge, they mentioned the difficultly remaining open year round. Village Green Gallery is open seasonally, between Memorial Day weekend through Christmas; Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. In the winter, they are only open on the weekends. The cost of heating in the winter is a factor. They will stay open at other times by appointment.
Customers find that their staff is super friendly and engaging. Since Annie and some of her staff are natives, they can give patrons lots of referrals to other businesses and info on things to do in the region. The most surprising thing that ever happened in their business was the recent naked customer who visited!
When asked about the benefits of belonging to the chamber, the Afts love to keep up with fellow members news and events. They enjoy meeting fellow members and find the chamber an efficient outreach organization. When they opened their business, they felt it was important to join and believe the chamber offers a service to the public and other great resources.
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