Dog Lake Trading Co. offers some fetching wares
MIDDLEBURY — Dorothea Langevin and Cindy Strate have spent the past few years on the road marketing their artistic creations together at various shows throughout the state.
The two Addison County women have now laid down some retail roots close to home, in downtown Middlebury, with their new store called the Dog Lake Trading Co. at 9 Frog Hollow Alley.
The duo’s association began with a joint booth at a series of art and craft shows. Strate is a longtime jewelry designer and self-described “handbag maven.” Langevin has for several years served as a “life coach,” working primarily with women entrepreneurs. She has also served as a marketing professional for Geiger of Austria, and is maker of what she calls “one-of-a-kind wearable art.”
The pairing of their respective products, and the manner in which they displayed them, always received good reviews.
“We started with Cindy’s jewelry and my knitwear,” Langevin said. “We got good feedback.”
“We were frequently told we were the best booth of the show by fellow artists and the general public,” Strate said.
They were asked by Skihaus of Vermont owners to organize product presentation in the five large windows of the company’s Middlebury store, which closed this past June. Langevin and Strate enjoyed that experience and ultimately decided to open their own store in Addison County’s shire town.
“I think one inspiring moment was when we had to hold onto our (booth) tent in a hurricane,” Langevin said with a chuckle.
Thus began their search earlier this year for a spot that might accommodate their store. That search came to an end this spring when Anders Holm informed them of a space in his Main Street building that also features storefronts along Frog Hollow Alley. The duo agreed to lease the space formerly occupied by Frog Alley Tattoo & Leatherworks. They opened the store on June 17.
Strate and Langevin define the Dog Lake Trading Co. as “an eclectic mix of fabulous fun fashion for you and your home,” and their wares bear that out.
Colorful women’s fashions — including dresses, shoes, blouses and sweaters — hang in abundance in rows. Most of the items are one-of-a-kind. And that is by design.
“I think our world is hungry for uniqueness,” Langevin said.
Both women work hard to find the singular pieces for their store. They spend a lot of time at antique shops, flea markets and other venues where colorful, vintage styles can be resurrected for the next generation of fashion-conscious shoppers. They also collaborate with local talent, whenever possible.
Strate and Langevin also put a lot of effort in what they call “up-cycling.” This is a practice of taking a discarded, vintage item and completely transforming it into something both artistic and utilitarian. For example, Strate displayed a fetching table she made from a shutter, sheet of glass and an antique sewing machine stand. Langevin is adept at taking older chairs and giving them new life with whimsical upholstery.
“It’s basically the do-it-yourself projects that everybody dreams of doing someday, but you never get to,” Langevin said.
Strate’s jewelry features semi-precious and precious stones.
“There’s kind of a tribal tinge to what I do,” Strate said. “They have an energy about them.”
Shoppers who enter the store often end up making more than one purchase. That’s because the Dog and Lake Trading Co. features a lot of complementary styles and items. For example, Strate has brought in the very popular Moon Bags line. These designer vintage handbags were the brainchild of artist Patricia Smith, who created the artwork that adorns them. All the lacquered flap Moon Bags have a Velcro strip so the panels can be interchanged.
“They are very collectible, and fabulous,” Strate said.
Dog Lake Trading Co. also carries a variety of clocks, artwork, chairs, bureaus, ladies’ wear, quilts and lamps.
Business has been good of late, as shoppers have sought out the latest retail option in downtown Middlebury. Langevin believes shoppers are increasingly breaking out of their recessionary doldrums to invest in solid fashions. The store features a mixture of affordable, mid-range and higher-priced items that appeal to many different demographics, she said.
“I like it when three generations of a family comes in and everyone finds something,” Langevin said.
The retro nature of the store’s content also allows shoppers to reminisce.
“It is all about the stories and the memories that are brought back to life,” Langevin said.
More information about Dog Lake Trading Co. can be found on the store’s Facebook page.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].