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One Mercantile


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Style Shopping: griffinGB, A Comedy of Manners

Rural Intelligence StyleSome resale shops specialize in couture, others in labels straight from the mall.  Some reject any garment that is more than three years old; others would dismiss anything that new as merely “used.”  At griffinGB, a store in Great Barrington that debuted on Black Friday, there are no set rules. “Yea” or “nay” is determined solely by Connie Griffin’s discerning eye.  Filtered through her rose-colored lens, the past has been all about wit, charm, and grace.  An oversight?  If so, one to be embraced much as we embrace Jane Austen for failing to mention that England at that time of Pride & Prejudice was engaged in the Napoleonic War. 

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Victorian baby sweatercoat with handmade lace collar, $135.00
Connie Griffin and her partner (both in life and retail) Paul Giroux also sprinkle brand new items among the old—Beekman 1802 soaps, Marvis toothpaste from Italy, an IKEA blanket, Harney & Sons teas, along with their signature teacups—all of which they presently buy at retail, then barely marks up. 

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Victorian leather divan, $1200.00; 1940s Swiss suitcase, $58.00
“I haven’t quite figured out the wholesale thing yet,” says Griffin.  “I want to carry what people like best—until I figure that out, I’ll experiment buying bits and pieces retail.”  Griffin’s “real” job is producer at a Great Barrington company that makes state-of-the-art medical models.  “We all used to be in the film special effects business in New York,” she says of her colleagues there.  She’d heard that the company had moved to the Berkshires and had started doing something else. 

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1970s Leather driving gloves and 1950’s white leather gloves with bow, $15.00 each
One day, she and Giroux, who had recently retired from a career in counter-terrorism, primarily at the U.N., to move up here and pursue design work—the round modern mirror in an antique clamp (top photo) is his assemblage—had stopped for lunch at The Great American Hot Dog and Hamburger Company on Route 7. “I asked the guy, have you ever heard of the Chamberlain Group?,” Griffin recalls. ” He pointed across the road and said, ‘Their offices are right there.’ ”  Griffin, who had no clear career path in mind when she moved here, has been with them ever since.

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Buckler of NY enamel frames, $72.00 for a set of four; priced individually oval frame, far right, $26.00
Little wonder she believes so staunchly in serendipity that she has made it her avocation.  Shopping for vintage furnishings and clothing is not about getting errands done; it’s about being open to being charmed and to blinding insights, such as that owning a Victorian leather divan, especially one with a cigarette burn in the armrest, could be seriously life-enhancing.
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1930s French marble sink top, $145.00; Victorian batiste blouse with lace collar and insets, $68.00;  birdhouse (on floor), $38.00
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1930s tea gown with lace insets and skirt,  $250.00
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1980s Azzedine Alaïa sheath, $400.00
177 Main Street
Great Barrington; 413.528.3018
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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/01/11 at 04:53 AM • Permalink