Notes From Vermont’s First Economic Summit

Last updated on May 4th, 2018 at 10:27 am

Vermont's First Economic Summit

Governor Shumlin kicked off Vermont’s First Economic Summit in Rutland yesterday by signing a new downtown development law.Yesterday I traveled to the Paramount Theater in Rutland for Vermont’s First Economic Summit.  Where else but Vermont could a small business owner like me elect to join the Governor, many of his Cabinet members and some of the most successful CEOs in the state to brainstorm about our economic future?  New York?  California?  I don’t think so.  Only in Vermont.

Anyway, about 125 people gathered to discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in America’s greenest state.  On one hand our taxes are high, environmental regulations are onerous and the cost of living is barely affordable for most workers.  But, somehow we love to live, work and play here anyway.

So we looked at why that is and listed a lot of benefits that Vermont has to offer:  beautiful scenery, short pleasant commutes to work, relaxed pace, local economies, vibrant farmers markets and co-ops, fabulous farm to plate restaurants, skiing, hiking, fishing, camping, nice neighbors, working landscapes, clean lakes, rivers and streams, sustainable development and so on.  Not to mention easy access to government officials!

Then the task was reconciling the pluses and minus’ of Vermont’s economics in terms of concrete fix-it strategies.  We broke out into small groups to focus on:  workforce development, the Vermont brand, Vermont infrastructure, Global competitiveness, Innovation and a few other topics.  I was lucky to find myself working in the Vermont Brand group with Kathleen Wanner of the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association VWMA, Lynette Kemp of Vermont’s Department of Taxes (we tried not to hold that against her) and Colleeen Leonard, Vermont’s Working Lands Policy Administrator from the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

At the end of the day all of the small groups presented their ideas and recommendations to a plenary session and we discussed plans to follow through both formally and informally.  Now our challenge is to make things happen in a way that preserves Vermont’s pristine rural character and brings economic prosperity to all it’s citizens.  Think it’s doable?

You can read more about the Economic Summit on Vermont Digger.

Break Out Group Working on Defining Vermont's Brand
Robin Scheu, Executive Director at Addison County Economic Development Corporation led the break-out group working on defining Vermont’s brand.  I worked with Kathleen Wanner of the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association VWMA (the only one looking at you), Lynette Kemp of Vermont’s Department of Taxes (we tried not to hold that against her) and Colleen Leonard, Vermont’s Working Lands Policy Administrator from the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Adirondack Chairs: Essential Summer Vacation Equipment

Last updated on August 20th, 2014 at 11:20 am

Classic Adirondack Chairs | American Made by Polywood
If you want to feel like you’re vacationing at one of the Adirondack’s Great Camps, check our our Classic Adirondack Furniture collection.  These are pretty authentic replicas of the original Adirondack chair designed by Thomas Lee in Westport, NY back in 1903. 

Memorial Day weekend is the time we start thinking about where to go for summer vacation.  Summers are so beautiful (and short) here in Vermont, that many of us don’t go away for vacations.  We tool around here in the Green Mountain State… maybe taking occasional trips to the coast of Maine or other scenic spots around New England.

But whether we’re doing a micro-vacation after work in the back yard or heading to Lake Champlain for the weekend, the Adirondack Chair is considered essential equipment in Vermont.  So with the school year coming to a close and warm weather settling in (well, at least it’s forecast for the coming week), I thought I’d post a quick rundown of some of our most popular Adirondack chairs.  Grab a Long Trail or a margarita while you browse through the selection:

Classic Adirondack Chairs (above)

If you want to feel like you’re vacationing at one of the Great Camps of Lake Placid or Saratoga Springs, then you’ll have to check our our Classic Adirondack Furniture collection.  These are pretty authentic replicas of the original Adirondack chair designed by Thomas Lee in Westport, NY back in 1903.  Comfy and roomy, this outdoor furniture can be customized online in 7 different traditional colors:  teak, sand, mahogany, white, black, green and gray.  The collection includes a tete-A-tete group, a love seat, gliders, rockers, dining furniture and a folding Adirondack chair in addition to the chairs shown above.

Long Island Adirondack Chairs | Made in America by Polywood | Recycled Plastic
Long Island Adirondack Chairs are a modern take-off on classic Adirondack furniture.  Bright and cheerful, this outdoor collection can be customized online in 14 vibrant colors.

Long Island Adirondack Chairs (above)

The Long Island Adirondack Furniture collection is a modern take-off on classic Adirondack furniture.  Bright and cheerful, this outdoor collection can be customized online in 14 different colors: light or dark blue, tangerine orange, lemon yellow, lime green, sunset red, teak, mahogany, sand, white, black, forest green or slate grey.

Polywood Seashell Adirondack Rockers | American Made
POLYWOOD Seashell Adirondack Rockers are oversized and up to 50% heavier than the Long Island and South Beach rockers.  Made in America of recycled plastic and guaranteed for a lifetime of use.

Seashell Adirondack Chairs (above)

The Seashell Adirondack Furniture collection is a more high end set, with the main distinction being the size of the pieces.  Seashell pieces are over-sized and up to 50% heavier that the Classic Adirondack and Long Island pieces.  Great for coastal areas where you’ll never have to worry about losing them to the tide or a strong wind!  Available in traditional colors only:  teak, mahogany, sand, white, black, forest green or slate grey.

Polywood South Beach Furniture | Adirondack Chaise Lounge | American Made
P South Beach Furniture collection includes this Adirondack Chaise Lounge.  Customize it online in one of 14 different colors.  Add a Sunbrella cushion for added comfort.

South Beach Adirondack Chairs (above)

The South Beach Adirondack Furniture collection looks much like the Seashell style but it’s smaller, lighter and less expensive. Customize South Beach chairs online in all 14 colors, including the vibrant blues, greens, red and yellow.  The chaise lounge in this collection is shared with the Seashell collection– as I don’t think you would want one any bigger (it weighs in at a hefty 53 pounds).

Kids Furniture | Outdoor Dining Furniture for Children | Polywood Adirondack Style

What is more exciting for kids than having pint-sized furniture of their own?  POLYWOOD has 3 different Adirondack pieces designed specially for the younger generation:  A Kids Picnic Table, a Child-Size Round Dining Table and the South Beach Kids Adirondack Chair.

 

 

 

 

Adirondack Furniture for Kids (above)

What is more exciting for kids than having pint-sized furniture of their own? POLYWOOD has 3 different Adirondack pieces designed specially for the younger generation:

When the summer’s over, you can leave POLYWOOD furniture outside without worry.  It’s impervious to rain, snow, ice, and salt water and carries buyer protection warranties you won’t find with other outdoor furniture.

So that’s the skinny on hefty, POLYWOOD Adirondack furniture for your summer vacation pleasure.  Now it’s time to start scheduling your time off.  Grab your calendar and another Long Trail.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Stonehurst Milestone: Got Our Certificate of Occupancy!

Last updated on January 3rd, 2018 at 10:47 am

Celebrating Our Certificate of Occupancy for Stonehurst
Douglas, Sean, Liz, Loryn and Michelle marked today’s occasion with a festive bottle of wine, a couple crystal goblets and a card with their photo on it.  Thanks guys!

Today was a big milestone for us at Stonehurst, our (soon to be) fine furniture and art gallery in Vernon, Vermont.  We received our Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from Brian Johnson, a Vermont Regional Fire Prevention Officer.  The CO is a pre-requisite for moving into the new location as it formally documents compliance with all zoning and construction permits, like those related to the environment, life safety, health, fire prevention, ADA accessibility and water/waste water.

Stonehurst Fine Furniture and Art Gallery | Vernon Vermont
Kelsey Eaton took this picture of what Stonehurst looks like today.  Not exactly ready for prime time but all our  fire prevention, ADA accessibility and other environmental safety and health codes are met.  We can start moving in this weekend.

Ken and Dennis have been working non-stop for many months with Jeremy Coleman (of J Coleman Architects), Bob Furlone and Scott Strong (of American Construction) and many Vermont state representatives to ensure that everything at Stonehurst was done properly and according to code.  This was the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears today and we are sending out a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved.

And how cool are Douglas, Sean, Liz, Loryn and Michelle for marking this occasion with a festive bottle of wine, a couple crystal goblets and a card with their picture and good wishes on it?  Thanks, Guys!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Michelle Rooks Brings a Little Drama Into the Woods

Last updated on February 28th, 2019 at 04:07 pm

Michelle Rooks:  Welcome to the Vermont Woods Studios
We are proud to be able to  introduce you to Michelle Rooks, our new Customer Service Representative at Vermont Woods Studios.  Besides working with our furniture makers to accurately relay and monitor your orders, Michelle is in charge of performing arts education for the office. Unfortunately we missed seeing her act in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Sound of Music (above) but soon we’ll get to see her in Les Mis and Shrek.

One of the reasons we feel so lucky to be moving in to Stonehurst later this week is that it’s located a block away from the house of a local celebrity (yes, famous people do live here in Vernon– well, famous to us, anyway).   Thespian, Michelle Rooks is our new Vermont Woods Studios Customer Service Representative by day.  But on weekends, nights and holidays you can often find Michelle “acting out” at Ja’Duke Performing Arts Theater in neighboring Turners Falls, MA.

After her first full week at Vermont Woods Studios, when she was heading home after work on Friday afternoon, Michelle casually mentioned that she was going to perform that night as a French maid in an Alfred Hitchcock thriller called The Rope.  She invited us to see the play, but I think she was a bit surprised when Douglas, Liz, Sean, Loryn, Kendall and I all showed up in the front row to cheer her on.  We had a great time and can’t wait to attend Michelle’s next couple plays:  Les Miserables and Shrek, the Musical.

Michelle has a BS in Journalism and Advertising with a minor in Animal Science.  Her professional background includes expertise in the publishing world encompassing such areas as editing, photo manipulation, desktop publishing and proofreading.  Customers will appreciate her eye for detail… as do our furniture makers!

Michelle lives down the street with her husband Chris, two beautiful children and Faith, their lovable rescue dog.  She is an active volunteer at her church and at the kids’ school.  We are fortunate that she’s worked us into her very busy schedule!  We love her Midwestern sensibilities and wry sense of humor that keep us grounded, even on our craziest days.  Welcome aboard, Michelle!

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Frank Lloyd Wright Furniture to be Discontinued by Copeland

Last updated on May 8th, 2018 at 10:10 am

Frank Lloyd Wright Furniture - Discontinued by Copeland
Need to round out your Frank Lloyd Wright Furniture collection?  Better give Liz or Sean a call today as Copeland Furniture will be discontinuing this line as of June 30, 2013.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but we were informed by Copeland Furniture yesterday that the Frank Lloyd Wright furniture collection line is being discontinued as of June 30, 2013. We are sorry to see these pieces go as they were a big hit with our customers.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

The Final Leg of our Stonehurst Journey

Last updated on August 8th, 2013 at 10:40 am

Stonehurst Fine Furniture Showroom Nearing Remodel Completion
All hands on deck putting the finishing touches on our soon to be new home:  Stonehurst, Vermont Furniture Showroom

Vermont’s Newest Fine Furniture Showroom Coming Soon.

It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the one year mark in bringing Stonehurst to it’s new life. The journey began last June when during our search for a unique and special place for our new HQ we found Stonehurst. (I am pretty certain it was love at first sight for Peggy) That was a summer of contracts and inspections plus a boat load of paperwork. But by fall we had keys in hand and so we began our search for the “just right” construction team. One that could transform our dream and visions into reality. Winter soon arrived and so did all the heavy equipment, tools, material and construction talent and work began. With Vermont winters being what they are the construction team was certainly counting the days till spring but they made great headway during a classic Vermont winter. We have now seen Stonehurst through 4 seasons, taken her apart and put her back together (well almost!) We know her so well now and our team is very anxious to make this our new home.

According to the construction timeline plan we should be ready to occupy Stonehurst on May 17th. The site is certainly active right now as the various and carefully coordinated tradesman do their thing to ensure we get in by that day. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, landscapers and a few other trades all working together and putting the finishing touches on it.  Very busy indeed up there.

Then we have our work cut out for us in seamlessly moving our whole operation, fortunately and thankfully just a few miles down the road. Very fitting that Vermont Woods Studios remains in Vernon, it’s birth town. You will no doubt hear when we make the move and we will let everyone know when the new showroom is open for business. It shouldn’t be long. We hope you get the chance to visit and we hope you find Stonehurst to be a special and unique place too. We hope to see you there!

You can follow this blog, check our Facebook page, or give us a call to stay up to date on our “open to the public” date.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Recycling and Repurposing Stonehurst: Free Stuff!

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 12:21 pm

What kind of free stuff is available at Stonehurst? Slate roofing tiles, old timbers, new windows and doors, old bricks, cement blocks, some rebar, insulation, a couple pieces of furniture and cabinetry and a few other odds and ends. Give us a call (802-275-5174), then stop by and check it out. Be sure to give us a call first so we can show you what’s free and what’s still being used for Stonehurst renovations (don’t get me into trouble with Ken). 

Stonehurst construction is nearing completion.  In a month or so we should be able to move out of our cramped quarters next to the Vernon Post Office into the 200 year old farmhouse we’ve been renovating for use as a showroom, art gallery and office space.  Woohoo!

Unfortunately, before the move we have lots of work ahead in wrapping up renovation activities, cleaning up the construction zone, doing landscaping and making the place worthy of your visit.  In light of that, Dennis and Douglas have joined forces in a concerted effort to persuade (coerce?) Ken and me to let go of the “construction debris” (or valuable building blocks for undefined future projects, according to Ken) and get Stonehurst ready for visitors asap.

If you can put these timbers and slate roofing tiles to good use, they’re yours.  Help us salvage what we can and while you’re here, have a look into the future of this 200 year old farmhouse.

So with that in mind, I offer these pieces of Stonehurst to you for recycling, upcycling, re-using or re-purposing.  Come and get ’em!  If you or someone you know is interested, just give us a call (802-275-5174) and plan to meet us at Stonehurst (538 Huckle Hill Rd, Vernon, VT) after work at 5:30 almost any night for the next week or so.

What’s available?  Slate roofing tiles, old timbers, new windows and doors, old bricks, cement blocks, some rebar, insulation, a couple pieces of furniture and cabinetry and a few other odds and ends.  Stop by and check it out.  Help us salvage what we can from Stonehurst’s former days and while you’re here, have a look into it’s future.

 

 
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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Everybody’s Getting Ready To Move In!

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 04:53 pm

 

Installation of Bluebird Nest Boxes
Vermont Woods Studios Green Team installing the Bluebird nesting boxes.

Bluebird Nesting Boxes Installed, Who Will Move in First?

Back in March I wrote a blog post about our Bluebird nesting box project. Since our new Stonehurst property had the right environment (open grassy fields) for nesting Bluebirds and we had some extra lumber the Green Team went into action. It was a tough winter so it took a bit this year for the snow to finally melt away so we could complete the final phase of our project. Plus that’s about the time Bluebirds return to these parts. But what we really needed was some thawed ground. These nest boxes need to go out in the open field which necessitated driving metal mounting posts a few feet deep into the ground. Bluebirds forage on open grassy ground and we were able to get 4 boxes in. (Bluebirds prefer some space between their nests)

For those of you who may not have heard, Stonehurst is going to be the home of our new Vermont made furniture showroom. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and painters have been very busy since January remodeling this old farmhouse. According to the latest project schedule we should be able to begin the move in sometime mid May. Everyone here sure is eager to move into our new home! But I suspect the Bluebirds should discover these recently installed nest boxes any day now and will probably be moved and settled in before we do!

In the meantime, I will go up to Stonehurst every few days to check the nest boxes and  look for signs of move in. (Bluebirds use grass for a nesting material) While I am up there I will check on our construction team to see when our new nest will be ready. Stay tuned for future blogs to see what our nest box project yields.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?

Last updated on September 29th, 2022 at 02:43 pm

Luxury Furniture | Avoiding Global Rainforest Destruction | Choosing Sustainable American Made Furniture
Organized crime is currently responsible for an unprecedented rate of rainforest destruction.  Unchecked illegal logging is rampant in tropical countries too poor to effectively monitor and enforce conservation regulations.  You can help save the rainforest by avoiding the purchase of imported forest products like wood furniture and flooring.

Forest conservation is at the heart of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios and we’re always trying to raise awareness about where your wood furniture comes from.  If you’re committed to buying American made furniture— no worries.  Chances are it’s made from legal wood, sustainably harvested from well-managed forests right here in North America.

But if you’re buying imported wood furniture (70% of furniture sold in America is imported) then: Houston, we have a problem.

A recent Washington Post article by Brad Plumer entitled Organized Crime is Getting Rich Cutting Down the Rainforest describes how the illegal logging trade has become just as lucrative (and far more destructive) than the drug-trafficking industry.  50 to 90 percent of forestry in tropical areas is now controlled by criminal groups!  “A great deal of logging simply takes place illegally — much of it in tropical areas such as the Amazon Basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.” (ref: United Nations and Interpol)

The U.N. estimates that illicit logging is now worth between $30 billion to $100 billion, or up to 30 percent of the global wood trade.  That illegal wood is often shipped from pristine rainforests to China, Vietnam and other third world countries where it’s fabricated into low quality furniture which is sold to US consumers. We’ve written quite a bit about the links between rainforest destruction, global warming and the furniture and flooring you choose for your home:

If you’re considering buying furniture at IKEA, Home Depot or any big box store… ask where the lumber originates and let us know what you find on our Facebook or in the comments section below.  Then re-discover sustainable, American made wood furniture and join us in feeling good about your furniture and your green home.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 04:53 pm

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont

 

If you’re familiar with our company, the name Renfrew may ring a bell, because of our Renfrew Shaker Furniture Collection. But, do you know the history behind the collection name? We like to name some of our collections after Vermont conservation heroes, and Dr. Rosalind Renfrew, or as she likes to be called, Roz, is one of them. Roz is a dedicated wildlife biologist in Vermont, and her name has been popping up in the local news recently. She is the editor for the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont, a comprehensive publication that came out this month.

This second edition publication has taken many years of research to complete. For ten years the Vermont Center for Eco Studies and a number of volunteers from all over the state surveyed the same land that was surveyed in 1985 when the first edition came out. The goal of this publication was to focus on population patterns, rather than the reasons for change. In addition, this atlas includes, “a guide to the biogeography of Vermont; and essays on change in habitats, climate, land use and their impact on Vermont’s bird communities over the past quarter century.” This comprehensive wildlife atlas is 576 pages! Inside you will find photographs, maps, charts and graphs.

The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont will be a great reference for hobby birders as well as conservationists. This large, extensive book is available for purchase through the publisher’s website for $75. There will be 150 of the books donated to libraries across Vermont, so that everyone can have access to the information.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.