A Vision to Revive Main Street with Danby Village Shops
February 22, 2021
Danby is home to the largest underground marble quarry in the world, stretching more than a mile into Dorset Mountain. Its marble, used in many famous buildings and monuments, including the U.S. Supreme Court building and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, is known for its durability and beauty.
Not far from Dorset Mountain is Danby’s Main Street, a road that runs parallel to Route 7 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Main Street features 19thand early 20thcentury homes—some built with foundations made from Danby marble.
Nancilee Kennedy arrived in southern Vermont in March 1971 and moved to Danby a decade ago. In recent years, she began to worry about her small community. After the local general store in the heart of town closed its doors, followed by a lawyer’s office shutting down across the road, Main Street became eerily quiet.
“There was literally nothing in Danby that was open. It was dark at night, there was no foot traffic, and very little was going on,” Kennedy says. “I really wanted to see Danby thrive again. It’s just the quintessential Vermont town.”
Danby Village Shops Offers a Sense of Renewal
-Anne Carter sells fashion, home decor, and self-care products at The Shoppe by Carter Richards Style at Danby Village Shops.
A few months ago, Kennedy leased the two buildings that once housed the general store and lawyer’s office to create Danby Village Shops, an initiative bringing new life to Main Street.
Danby Village Shops include Mamma Tamara & Famiglia’s Italian deli, the Happy Bat Toy Shop, The Shoppe by Carter Richards Style, Mountain Heart store and fiber arts studio, Highland House Soaps, Sexy Llama Coffee Roasters, and Chaga Dawgs.
Kennedy already has a list of other merchants looking to set up shop in Danby, including artists, jewelry makers, and food businesses.
“It’s become so popular that even in the dead of winter, we have foot traffic on a Saturday in Danby,” Kennedy says. “There are people who drive here from far and wide to come here to the vintage shops, and the Italian deli, and everything else that’s going on here.”
-Allison McGowan, owner of the Happy Bat Toy Shop at Danby Village Shops.
The shops opened in November in time for the holiday shopping season. The stores are currently open Fridays and Saturdays, and Kennedy says the shops use a COVID conscious approach. The deli offers take-out, and only a small number of people are in the shops at a given time. When the warmer weather arrives, Kennedy hopes to open an outdoor farmers’ market in the local park with events, live music, and more.
Kennedy, who officially opened the shops on Friday the 13th, says she knew she was taking a chance. Even in a time of economic uncertainty and amid a global pandemic, she thought the shops were something the town needed.
“I really felt that the collective consciousness of not just Danby, but everywhere, needed some positive energy,” she says. “It was a leap of faith, and it worked. People were looking for something positive in these somewhat dire times.”
-Tamara Musto, owner of Mamma Tamara, talks to customers at Danby Village Shops.
Kennedy hopes that Danby Village Shops continues to gain momentum and draw business and visitors to town.
“I felt like Danby closed for a while, and I would like it to stay open. I would like to see it be a destination spot,” she says. “I would hope it just becomes a place on the map where people can come to walk in the woods, swim in the river, look in the shops, and have a day of music. That’s the vision.”
Happy Vermont Podcast: A Vision to Revive Main Street in Danby
-Megan Amundson, owner of Highland House Soaps, sells her handmade soaps at Danby Village Shops.
In this podcast episode of Happy Vermont, Nancilee Kennedy talks about what makes Danby special, its history, and why Danby Village Shops are important to the community.