Montclair’s {verdigreen} is a space for art and community

Montclair's {verdigreen} is a space for art and community

{verdigreen} isn’t a traditional retail store. The Montclair, New Jersey, storefront that artist and mother Azie Shelhorse opened in October 2013 is a space that serves a number of purposes. Sometimes a marketplace for local artists and other times a performance space for musicians from the area, this vintage art supply and antique store is made to serve the whole community.

“Since opening the shop, I just feel totally embraced and supported by the community,” Shelhorse said in an interview. “People here really want to support their small, locally owned businesses. And I also feel supported and encouraged by the artists in the community.”

{verdigreen} sells pieces designed by more than 20 local artists, ranging from reclaimed wood cutting boards to larger home decor pieces. After growing up in Chicago, Shelhorse moved to Montclair with her husband, Travis, and two sons. She started {verdigreen} as an Internet business via the website Etsy. Then the family purchased a showroom and studio on Glenridge Avenue and opened shop. Prior to opening their doors, Shelhorse approached a number of local artists to create a semi-collective where they could sell their unique, handmade art next to her own.

“When we moved here, there weren’t any stores exactly like mine, where you could go in and purchase something for your home’s decor or furniture that you knew was handmade or locally made. So, I feel like I’m bringing the support of local artists to the community in one place,” Shelhorse explained. She called the artists her “much more talented peers,” and explained that the {verdigreen} atmosphere is inspiring and artistically “nourishing in a non-cheesy way.”

Art and more

In addition to offering vintage home decor pieces and architectural salvage works, {verdigreen} is the only place that sells the popular Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the area. Chalk paint is named for its rough, beautiful finish that makes it perfect for older pieces of furniture or anything that you want to give a unique, decorative look. Working well on metal, wood, plastic and almost any material, it’s a popular choice for those trying to attempt their own furniture redesign.

Shelhorse herself redesigns furniture with paint and upholstery. Her base pieces are sometimes industrial or factory salvaged, but most often antique. Ethnic textiles are her specialty, giving her furniture a modern, rustic, bohemian look and a comfortable feel. The shop reflects this design, with a variety of pieces arranged in different areas. In a profile of the store, local citizen-run news source Baristanet described {verdigreen} as arranged into little living rooms that help customers imagine the individual pieces in their own homes.

Prior to opening {verdigreen}, Shelhorse stayed at home with her sons, only able to work on her furniture as a hobby during infrequent free time. Since she’s opened the storefront, Shelhorse has tried to take the enjoyment that she’s gotten out of her craft and share it with other members in the community – especially mothers.

“I really enjoy teaching my painting and craft workshops. So, I feel like I’m bringing this camaraderie specifically to women and moms. Because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for seven years, and I didn’t really have an outlet except for my naptime painting hobby and stuff that I sold on Etsy. So, now we’re doing these evening and Saturday classes, and we’re all kind of bonding over something we enjoy and are passionate about.”

Shelhorse holds classes where the community can come together to learn, create and interact. {verdigreen} is also home to arts and crafts sessions and a wine and cheese night every other month, where people get together to enjoy a local musical act and socialize. Each time, the event is catered by a new local bakery and is open to all. Although it’s free for anyone who wants to come, it’s also an opportunity to raise money for the local musician performing.

The store, like the wine and cheese nights, is particularly inclusive. Shelhorse makes sure to have juice on hand to serve with the children’s cheese and brings her own sons to work frequently for a little extra help. Unlike a typical antique store, Shelhorse curates a non-stuffy environment and has specifically created an area where children are encouraged to touch things and get tactile – like the artists themselves.

‘Hidden gem’

Although {verdigreen}’s presence is new to Montclair, it isn’t unfamiliar to Shelhorse, who moved to the town from Atlanta years ago when her husband got a job in New York City.

“We live in Montclair. We moved here about two years ago. We have lived in New Jersey for a while, but we chose Montclair because of the community, because it’s tight-knit and feels like a small town, but you have access to the city. It’s diverse, it’s progressive and it has great schools and we have two kids. We really love Montclair.”

Montclair’s strong art and culture scene attracted Shelhorse and her family to the town, but she said she hopes more people start to visit the Glenridge Avenue area specifically.

“I do want to bring some of this community to the area,” Shelhorse said. “Glenridge Avenue is kind of a hidden gem in Montclair. I feel like it’s underrated, and I just want it to be noticed and found.”

Located on 182 Glenridge Ave., {verdigreen} is in part of Montclair’s Glenridge Avenue Merchants, or GLAM, neighborhood. Running from Salute Brick Oven Bistro to Jerry’s Antiques and Estates, the GLAM organization is united in bringing beauty and attention to the area, according to Baristanet.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., {verdigreen} not only has a strong community presence, but is also active on the Web. Whether through her {verdigreen} website or Facebook page, Shelhorse shares store events as well as photographs of ongoing projects, new products and, of course, her sons.

Shelhorse’s tagline for {verdigreen} is “Redesigned home furnishings and handmade haven.” In addition to being a haven for custom, one-of-a-kind goods, it’s also a place for creativity, art, socialization, play, music, good food and community.

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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on December 21, 2016. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.

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