Southbury.com – Hi everyone. Michael, here from Southbury.com. I’m on main street, south in Southbury, right across from the town hall and next to The Laurel Diner. We’re about to go do a business spotlight with Shirley Lenhard owner of The Cottage at Main. Come on, let’s go.
Southbury.com – Michael here from Southbury.com. I’m sitting here with Shirley Lenhard from The Cottage at Main. Shirley, welcome!
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Thank you so much.
Southbury.com – Shirley is one of our guests here on the business spotlight, where we try to learn a little bit more about the people behind the business. So, Shirley, my first question to you is when did you open?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – I opened on May 1st, 2021.
Southbury.com – Okay, so not that long. What made you choose this location, specifically?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – I was on vacation visiting my mom in Georgia and my husband is Willy from Willie’s Automotive, two doors down and he knew this was a dream of mine. So he decided to surprise me and asked me to come home to open the shop.
Southbury.com – Wow, that’s a great surprise.
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – It was a great surprise.
Southbury.com – Have you regretted it?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Not even for a second.
Southbury.com – So Shirley, tell us about some of the products that you sell here at the cottage.
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Okay. So we have two different rooms at the cottage at main. The first room in is my passion is the room that we’re sitting in. Now it’s a local room and that means that I have all local area artists, artisans, crafters, and small farmers here. Um, we have everything from honey to maple syrup, to the best barbecue sauce north of the Mason Dixon line. And all of this “Go Dogs!” – by the way, this man’s from Alabama, this entire room is locally sourced. Um, people from Litchfield, Higganum, Southbury, Newtown, Torrington, um, Watertown, Naugatuck we have all local artists and artisans, crafters, and small farmers in this room. And it’s a passion of mine. Um, because I think that we need to support small businesses and the people who don’t have brick and mortar stores are able to showcase their wares here. And we also have pop-up shops that we do to support the Southbury food bank and also the local artists artisans and crafters. Unfortunately, because it’s now December, we’re going to do those inside.
Southbury.com – So you said this side is local, that side of the cottage is what, what kind of products do you sell?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Those are small cottage style gifts that are, I think, unique and one of a kind, so they’re small cottage style gifts in the other room.
Southbury.com – Okay. And, and from conversations we’ve had, the plan is to expand the local pieces?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – That is true. So within the next year, my hope is to locally source, more artists, artisans, and crafters people have larger items than just what I’m able to carry in this small room. I would like to expand it to the other room and lessen my need for the trade routes. Like China, like Pakistan, like the big containers that are stuck out in the ocean, like Jeff Bezos, I would like to empower and enrich local artists and this community rather than making someone who’s already a billionaire, more of a billionaire.
Southbury.com – Thanks! Okay, so that’s the cottage upstairs, but I understand there’s also a studio?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Yes, that’s correct. We have a studio downstairs that we also consider a workshop. We do a lot of arts and crafts classes with children. We have a program with children it’s ongoing and ever changing. We also do arts and crafts classes with adults that is comprised of wood signs, porch board signs. We also do jewelry 101, which is teaching you how to use jewelry tools and crafting things, using the proper tools and the proper techniques for those. We also have tool-less, jewelry classes. We have junk journaling. We have card making. We have zentangle, which is a whole lot of fun. It’s like yoga for the mind. Um, we have a lot of ornament making classes, wreath classes. The best thing to do is to check our website frequently and register for classes on our website at www.cottageatmain.com.
Southbury.com – Can we go into the studio?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Yes, absolutely.
Southbury.com – All right, let’s go!
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Let’s go!
Southbury.com – So this is the Studio.
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Welcome to the Studio at Main. So here at the cottage at main, we do something called string work, where you are able to put nails in a board and using string, make these clever little designs. We’re also able to personalize them with most, anything you want us to put on the board by using stencils, no artistic ability is required on your part, just your creativity and your sense of fun.
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Here at the Cottage at Main, we also do painted porch boards and wallboards these things are made with stencils. Again, no artistic ability is required as you’re using a stencil. Your sense of fun whimsy and color combinations are all that’s required for these classes.
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – If you’re looking for something really fun to do for a child’s birthday party, we also do birthday parties here at the Cottage at Main. These are just a few examples of what a fun birthday party could entail. Um, and we also do children’s events here, which are a series of workshops for children. Um, and you should check out our website so you can see what we’re doing and when we’re doing it, this is just a small representation.
Southbury.com – I know for a fact that you started this business with the idea of somehow giving back to the community. Why was that so important to you?
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – So I’m not going to cry.
Southbury.com – Don’t cry.
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – My husband and I are the only family we have here in Connecticut. And I love my family and I miss them a great deal and opening the cottage at main gave me the opportunity to build my own family and make community matter in my world. So I’m a firm believer in you get what you give and this community has so wholly supported my family, meaning Willie and I, and Saffie that we can’t help but to give back to this community in as many ways as we possibly can. And we have reaped the blessings and rewards of that. And I am forever humbled and thankful.
Southbury.com – God, what a great response. Thank you. So I just want to thank everyone who’s joining us online or via a video. Shirley, thank you so much for taking the time out of your very busy schedule today to do the business spotlight. Thank you!
Shirley Lenhard (Cottage at Main) – Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Southbury.com – Thanks guys!