Friday, June 2, 2017

All 50 states

Shops that have a focus or a theme are interesting places at which to shop. I have always been drawn to a shop that has a clear mission or vision, that takes a niche and commits to it. And here's a really neat concept for a shop: carry handmade items from all 50 states. Fifty Home in Concord, NH is doing just that. And why do I care? Because I am now one of the artists represented from the state of New York.

Concord Business Embraces Made-in-the-USA Trend

Published Friday, May 13, 2016
by Grace Dean

The buy local movement has gained momentum, and press, in recent years in direct response to the explosion of big box stores with cheaper items made oversees. Annie Clark is part of that movement, but with her own twist. Shoppers at Fifty Home in Concord are not only choosing a local merchant, they are choosing one who carries at least one item from each of the 50 states.

“My motto is, buy quality. Care about what your purchases are made of, and you’ll have a better product along with supporting your community,” says Owner Annie Clark of her home goods store, located across from the Statehouse in Concord.

Clark, a former interior designer, opened Fifty Home last summer with an inventory of goods not carried by any of the chain stores that dominate the U.S. market. That is because Fifty Home’s inventory includes at least one product from each of 50 states, and is currently expanding to include 50 more products made locally in NH. The store’s colorful shelves are lined with everything from handmade pillows and non-toxic dog toys to tote bags made of recycled yoga mats. Most of the goods are either homemade by an independent seller or produced by a small-scale manufacturer.

When Clark first opened she spent time searching Google for products made in the USA and on peer-to-peer online marketplaces such as Etsy and Grommet, where independent producers can sell handmade or vintage products directly to retailers, to source her products. “Now that I am up and running I have people knocking on my door with products to sell,” Clark says. Fifty Home has a website, but 90 percent of sales are in the brick and mortar store.

According to Clark, relying on websites like Etsy does more than provide the store with an exclusive supply of goods. It also promotes the values of small business within the national community. “The mother in Virginia who is trying to sell a homemade product suddenly has a legitimate business with the help of our retail store buying wholesale from her,” says Clark.

Clark and her husband, Jim, are currently the only employees. They work full time at Fifty Home and also work part time at their other business, The Black Bear Micro Roastery, which they have operated out of Tuftonboro for the last 20 years. Every customer at Fifty Home receives a fresh-brewed cup of coffee and as each customer checks out at the register, Clark tells them where and how each product they purchased was made.

Fifty Home just opened last year, but Clark already has a vision of expansion and new locations. “What I really want to see is a Fifty Home in every state, with each store having 50 items from that specific state as well as at least one item from every other state,” she says.