From Dilapidated to Main Street Treasure
By Hannah Van Sickle
A shared passion for all things beautiful caused the paths of designer Bunny Williams and the fashion-forward Christina van Hengel to converge. “I envisioned creating a unique space filled with something you couldn’t find anywhere else—locally made products from our talented community,” says Williams of the one-of-a-kind products that have been the foundation of 100 Main since August 2019. When Williams first came to town, three decades ago, there was a hairdresser and a grocery store. “The store eventually fell into disrepair [and] it made me sad to see it empty,” she recalls. The eventual renovation of a once defunct eyesore has literally breathed new life into the tiny hamlet of Falls Village. The extensive process revealed industrial details—steel beams above and polished concrete below—poised to harness the building’s roots and anchor the current boutique that boasts handmade items from more than 100 artisans.
“We are definitely interested in brands and makers who are thinking sustainably,” says van Hengel, pointing to a wood turner who uses felled trees, a basketmaker who puts locally grown organic willow to use, and a designer who makes children’s clothing from vintage kimonos as prime examples. “We love when we can find these details,” she adds in a nod to the curation process. Together, she and Williams reached out to artisans in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York to source and hand-select a group of products to sell in their shop. “We have it filled with everything from furniture to ceramics, art, children’s goods, linens, woven blankets, glassware, even soaps and candles,” says Williams of an ever-changing inventory that entices shoppers to come back often. “We like to keep it fresh,” says van Hengel noting a core group of artists who remain in rotation while their particular offerings change to reflect a new color palette or different design.
In a scant 18 months, 100 Main has quite literally put Falls Village on the proverbial map: the shop was voted one of the Best Home Stores in America by House Beautiful as well as New England Home’s Design Destination. “It’s always been our mission to provide something for everyone,” says van Hengel. Prices run the gamut—from proper paintings and full-size furniture to smaller soaps and tissue carriers—with a common thread binding it all together: purchasing locally-made products means paying for an artisans’ time. “The goal was to create a unique shopping experience without being too out of reach,” says van Hengel of their philosophy to reach neighbors, newcomers, and everyone in between.
“We feel lucky for a large space, no lines, and we are working on enhancing our online shop,” says van Hengel in a nod to upcoming trunk shows—and ongoing interviews—with some of the myriad makers whose wares fill the shelves at the eponymous boutique. “[The building] always reminded me of an old fashioned general store,” William recalls, proof that there is indeed something for everyone within the reimagined walls of 100 Main—a destination whose evolution is far from complete.
100 Main St