Middlebury shopkeeper moving on

MIDDLEBURY — Clarisse Shechter has loved finding, sorting and selling a variety of vintage clothing, jewelry and related accessories out of three different storefronts during a 26-year run in downtown Middlebury.
But time waits for no one, and Shechter said on Thursday it’s time for her to close up her shop, Bejewelled, at 1 Frog Alley. She will officially close at the end of December, and has already begun a clearance sale on clothing.
Shechter said she’s thoroughly enjoyed her time as a merchant, but believes it’s time for her to ease into semi-retirement. She will continue to sell wares on-line as Bejewelled, but wants to shed the responsibilities of stocking, maintaining and staffing a store.
“It’s more the energy that it takes to keep (the store) up,” Shechter said. “I had to find my own inventory, which was a large part of the business.”
That inventory came from estate sales, through pickers and other diverse sources. She prided herself in finding many one-of-a-kind items that she then often had to clean and/or repair before offering them for sale.
“And keeping the shop neat and looking good was a full-time job,” Shechter said.
She began her first retail venture, Stardust Memories, off Merchants Row in the Battell Block in 1985. She moved her business to Main Street during the early 1990s, eventually changing its name to Bejewelled — an appropriate moniker, given her professional training as a jeweler.
Bejewelled moved to 4 Frog Alley in 1994, operating there for more than 12 years. She then moved to her current spot at 1 Frog Alley seven years ago.
Customers over the years have enjoyed perusing Bejewelled’s collection of antique dresses, coats, pocketbooks, vases, jewelry, jewelry boxes, dishware, hats, scarves, shoes and other items.
Shechter said over time she learned just the right items to stock, and had a number of faithful customers whom she would help accessorize for weddings, parties and other special occasions.
“They knew they would have something unique,” she said.
Shechter will in particular miss the personal contact with clients. But she will not have any trouble staying busy. In addition to her on-line venture, she plans to spend time with her two grandchildren while tending to some long-overdue maintenance on her home and garden.
Her store will not be vacant for long. Shechter said her nearby neighbor, Hide Away Leather and Wood Works at 2 Frog Alley, will be moving in early next year.
She leaves with no regrets.
“It’s been quite a ride,” Shechter said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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