News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
In this year of Covid, SBG is not undertaking many of our previous initiatives, such as a marketing brochure. Instead, we want to promote our members and the Sandwich business community in new ways. Meet Our Members will be a recurring feature in which we learn more about the Sandwich folk engaged in local businesses and nonprofit organizations. These will be stories about our friends and neighbors, as well as their businesses.
What is your name and the name of your business/organization?
Martha Nichols, Gallery Manager of The Sandwich Home Industries; aka League of NH Craftsmen Center Sandwich Gallery
How did you get to Sandwich, NH?
I have lived in Sandwich for 37 years! Before moving here in the early 1980s, I came to Sandwich as a child because my grandparents loved visiting the lakes and mountains of NH when they were young adults. They brought their family and rented a cottage on the lake and my parents continued that tradition every summer of my childhood. When my aunt and uncle bought an old farm in Sandwich in the 50s, I became a regular visitor to Sandwich.
What got you started in this job?
The manager job sort of fell into my lap when a friend told me about it. I had taken early retirement from teaching high school and was looking for a new adventure.
Tell us about the Sandwich Home Industries.
The Sandwich Home Industries is a non-profit organization supporting local artists and the local economy by providing a welcoming gallery and educational programs for area residents and visitors to Center Sandwich. The gallery sells a wide selection of fine hand-crafted items, and offers classes in arts and crafts. Our gallery stocks traditional and contemporary fine crafts made by juried members of the League of NH Craftsmen. Our Education Program is the cornerstone of our mission – we create a varied curriculum for both adults and children.
How did the Sandwich Home Industries get started?
The Sandwich Home Industries (SHI) has a rich history of supporting the craft economy of Sandwich. The Industries began in 1926 when Mrs. J. Randolph Coolidge and a committee of local Sandwich women organized an exhibition of locally made rugs and brought an expert from Boston to give a talk on the practical aspects of making and marketing rugs. From this experience the committee decided to form a cooperative venture. The Sandwich Home Industries opened in the summer of 1926 selling locally made handicrafts to support the local economy.
It was such a success that, a few years later, Mrs. Coolidge went to the Governor of NH to request a state-wide arts and crafts organization. In 1931, NH Governor John Winant supported their idea, establishing and funding the NH Commission of Arts and Crafts. As a result, the League of NH Craftsmen was formed in 1932 with Mary Coolidge as their President.
The League of NH Craftsmen has become one of the oldest and most recognized craft organizations in the country with seven galleries located throughout the state. For over 88 years, the nonprofit League has promoted fine craft, supported craftspeople, and educated and enriched New Hampshire’s communities.
What is the most fun/satisfying aspect of your job?
The manager job allows me to use skills I acquired in my career as a teacher. I find it most satisfying to collaborate with creative people, so setting up the gallery each season is quite fun. I am interested in Feng Shui and enjoy arranging the gallery so that it not only looks beautiful, but has the positive feel and flow of energy throughout. It is most satisfying to observe customers’ reactions when they visit the gallery. I also enjoy learning more about the many aspects of marketing and social media, which has been new to me!
What is the hardest?
The hardest part is schlepping inventory from League Headquarters! Many artists deliver their work to us (we take most work on consignment), but we will also pick up merchandise in Concord.
What has happened to your business in this last Covid year?
The beginning of the pandemic was nervewracking. We (the Board of Directors and myself) had no idea if it would be safe to open or if people would want to come out to shop. Ordinarily, we open mid-May, but we were in lockdown, so we waited to see what the State would decide. When we were able, we decided to open on a limited basis last year, which meant 3 days/week. We laid off staff and reduced my hours. We applied for the government grants and were able to stay afloat, thankfully.
I was surprised at the number of people who came by to shop last summer. They were happy and thankful that we were open. Of course, we practiced safety measures recommended by the State, and the season progressed smoothly. This season, we are planning on opening mid-May with our usual 7-day schedule. We are also planning our 2021 education program.
How do you see the future for this business?
The brick and mortar retail business is challenging these days since one can buy almost anything on the internet. SHI has even started selling some inventory through the League Galleries Webstore. However, I believe that seeing fine craft in person at our historic gallery and being able to touch it and pick it up as well as imagine it in your own space is critical.
Our town, in the summer particularly, is a tourist destination. People enjoy stopping by and finding that special NH-made gift or item for their home. It is best to experience art with the senses and one can’t get that while online shopping.
What else can you tell us about yourself and your business?
We have amazing talent and dedication on our Board of SHI Directors and are working on strategic planning for the future. We maintain the historic character of the building while making necessary repairs and updating displays. Collaboration with local businesses is also important to us. Last summer we held an Artists on the Porch series where we invited local crafters to sell their work. We are always looking for new ways to engage our community and would love to hear more ideas from Sandwich folks.
I am looking forward to Spring and starting our annual opening process. This year marks our 95th season and we are working to keep SHI going strong through its 100th Anniversary and beyond.
Martha Nichols, Gallery Manager
League of NH Craftsmen Center Sandwich Fine Craft Gallery
PO Box 164, 32 Main Street
Center Sandwich, NH 03227
Open mid-May to mid-October
Shop our gallery online!!
Diane Johnson writes: Lexi Townsend, owner of the Corner House Restaurant & Bar (284-6219), and Nick and Elaine Vazzana, owners of the Village Art Café & Country Store 284-7071), have been very supportive of our community during this pandemic.
They are helping people get fully prepared meals to go, groceries, and needed supplies like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Both businesses are ordering and providing for pick-up food which families can prepare at home. The Corner House has added a service where people can order and add items to the restaurant's bulk order and have food available for pick-up on Friday morning when the produce and meats arrive. Let's remember to support these businesses and their owners who are doing extra to provide for us.
We are very fortunate in our lovely little town to have very kind folks who are doing lots of things to make this time of uncertainty more bearable. In addition to take-out groceries and food, we have free baguettes, wellness phone calls, many makers of masks, the Sandwich Board, and lots of folks taking walks outside and waving at each other. It is a blessing to live in a beautiful place where we can be out in fresh air and able to keep a safe distance.
Find more information about Sandwich's response to the coronavirus here.
The Sandwich Business Group is once again sponsoring a house tour on August 17 to benefit the Sandwich Central School’s 6th grade class trip to Washington DC. Five great locations are on the tour this year. In the village visit:
36 Church Street – The David H. Hill House, a classic New England village house with attached shed and small barn built in 1854.
7 Maple Street – The Ezra Gould House, another classic New England village house built on Maple Street which was referred to by locals as Quaker Lane.
21 Main Street – the Masonic Lodge, known as the smallest lodge in the state.
While you’re in the village be sure to visit the Sandwich Historical Society and their Transportation Museum. Then venture up to 317 Wentworth Hill Road – the Brick Store built in 1845 which over the years housed a Post Office, law office, court room, newspaper, and jewelry making; and back by popular demand: 284 Wentworth Hill Road – Isaac Adams Homestead (formerly Chestnut Manor) and its collection of outbuildings.
You may start at any of the locations to purchase your ticket; $10 per person is the suggested donation. The tour runs from 10:00 – 3:00 and parking is available at 284 Wentworth Hill Road and at town hall for the village locations. Food and beverage are available at the Village Café. The Sandwich Home Industries features beautiful hand-crafted items, and the Samuel H. Wentworth Library is a treat with its barrel vaulted ceiling.
The Sandwich Business Group is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to facilitate affordable collaborative advertising and marketing projects for businesses located in Sandwich, New Hampshire. Some of our businesses cater to visitors, some to residents, and many to both. Promoting the economic and social vitality of our town is a benefit to everyone who cares about Sandwich. To learn more about SBG visit this page.
News & Views
News of what's happening in Sandwich and other items of interest.
Meet Our Members
Please enjoy the Sandwich Business Group's 2021 project called Meet Our Members. Read interviews with fascinating people who live here and run businesses, organizations, and engage in other creative pursuits.
Personal Mastery Programs, a Sustaining Sponsor of this website, is proud to support the Sandwich Business Group in its efforts to promote small business in Sandwich and enrich the community through events and initiatives.
To learn more about Personal Mastery Programs, see the listing under services on this website, or go to www.pmpcoach.com