Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shop Local, Get Global

One of the best things about Middletown is the eccentric nature of its commerce. Perhaps you already know about Harriet Amanda Chapman. If not, you are in for a treat.

The two proprietresses -- sisters Harriet and Amanda -- have lost count of how many decades they've been running their import shop filled with objects from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway & Iceland.

Their store is nearly impossible to find (more on that later) but once you have arrived, you are likely to be greeted with a cup of coffee and the invitation to just holler if you decide you'd like company or need any help. And then you are left to wander through their amazing collection of Scandinavian crafts and toys, all of which put you in the mood for "Christmas in the Northland". I make a yearly pilgrimage to their shop to add a few of their carved ornaments to our tree, and fill my kids stockings with tiny playthings that don't have a tv-show tie-in.

So what do they sell? Tin toys. Painted clogs. A whole wall of red palm-sized Santas. Spinning cut-paper mobiles. Hand-painted glittery greeting cards. Wooden puppets. Glass ornaments. Imported kitchen tools. Swedish treats and jars of Ligonberries. Icelandic sweaters. And "Reserved for Danes" parking signs.

It's like being inside of IKEA's childhood memories.

I've pasted a google map in this post -- but my best advice is to turn down Boston Road from Washington Street, take the second left, and park in front of the factory that looks empty. If you're lucky, Harriet Amanda Chapman's neighbor will have her door open and you can peer inside at artist Robin Price's letterpress studio.

View Larger Map

This post is hopefully the first in a series on what you can buy locally -- please email me with your suggestions and favorite shops at Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Shopping locally is a vote for your community. Harriet Amanda Chapman's is one of the many unique shopping experiences Middletown has to offer. One does tend to forget that it is there, given it's location, so a reminder is appreciated, especially at this time of year. The Ursel's Web holiday shop on Washington St. is another great place to find something unique for your Christmas tree.

Anonymous said...

It makes me so happy to see an article of HMC!* This store was a big part of my winter as a child, and upon entering I was transported to a scandinavian wonderland of charms,culture and beautifully crafted keepsakes. I would look foward to tagging along with my mom when she went to stock up on lovely holiday cheer. Harriet and Amanda make it an even more wonderful experience with their friendliness. It's like you're a guest in their home. Worth searching for the location. It's a hidden treasure.