By Lisa K. Berton
Community. The best word to describe the ambitious and cheery residents of Brattleboro is "community".
Their bustling downtown is occupied by privately owned shops selling Vermont souvenirs, vinyl records, hiking apparel, antiquities, art, and jewelry. Coffee shops, breweries, casual and fine dining options line the streets running perpendicular to and on Main Street. An example of how such southern Vermont locals keep business booming is through the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance*, a non-profit run by a volunteer Board of Directors who seek to promote the area and keep it well-maintained.
Small in size, Brattleboro from end to end can be traveled in roughly 10 minutes by car. West Brattleboro, which shares a zip code, adds to the overall assortment of things to see and do. It is a unique area, as it both jives with what Vermont depicts to the general public and finds other ways to bring in tourism with annual events like Strolling of the Heifers.
Here's a glimpse of the people and organizations that make Brattleboro what it is. a community.
Built in the mid-1960's, by Ursula Dalem and her late husband, Oskar, the European style 3-level motel features hand-painted furniture, wood beams, and a seasonal outdoor pool. The front desk and sitting area are stocked with international gifts and postcards from repeat visitors. Now in her 90's, Ursula still runs the day-to-day operation with a smile and witty sense of humor.
Inn on Putney Road
Designed to make guests feel at home, innkeepers John and Cindy Becker, provide quality furnishings in peaceful surroundings. Choose from a unique room or the suite in the main house or one of two rooms in the converted carriage house. Amenities include snacks, coffee/tea, a reading room, a pool table, a video library, hiking trails, and seating by the outdoor fountain. Daily breakfast is included.
Housed in an Art Deco building, the small hotel with surprisingly large rooms, offers interior, urban view, and mountain view options. Each consists of a record player, vinyl records, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and offbeat vintage furniture. Bathrooms are currently being renovated. Continental breakfast and limited parking included. The hotel is centrally located downtown and attached to Latchis Theatre, making it easy to enjoy the area on foot.
Made in Brattleboro
Neil Harley began making his organic chai spice blend at home as a humble small business. Chai Wallah has grown to the point that he now rents space at The Cotton Mill and ships his products worldwide. Available in a spice blend or mixed with tea, Neil suggests making it with a mix of boiled milk and water and offers instructions on his website.
As a certified ice diver, Bob Cornellier, gets calls from all over New England and works locally with the Brattleboro Fire Department. His other passions are theme parks, collectibles, and forced perspective photography, which he combines and posts on his Instagram account, SFNE Ultimate. SFNE aka Six Flags New England
Made from seasonal, local natural ingredients like figs, herbs, and edible flowers, along with imported chocolate, John and Dar architect Tavernier Chocolates. Also based at The Cotton Mill, they have the ability to sell directly to the consumer in person or online. Treats can also be found in select shops in New England, New York, and New Jersey.
WVEW 107.7 FM
The way radio used to be. WVEW is the love child of 60 or so volunteers who play the music of every genre, host on-air social justice commentaries, and banter amongst themselves with a touch of local gossip. They rely on donations and underwriters to operate. Listen online or download the app.
Take the Kids
Consisting of 500 acres, including multiple trails, gardens, a playground, petting farm, and more. Separate programs and events cater to kids and/or adults like Mud Day, goat yoga, Fall Festival, bread making, and lawn games. Meet Carlos, "the big mush" Brahma Red Holstein. Retreat Farm focuses on education and conservation all while having unforgettable fun.
New England Center for Circus Arts
Learn to fly high on a trapeze, juggle, or walk a tight wire or choose from a long list of abilities. Watch students and experienced performers showcase their talents on select dates. Events take place throughout the year. Select sessions are for adults only.
The Biscuit Shed
Large, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits are filling on their own. Daily sandwich options make include egg and cheese, fried chicken, and brisket. Ask if day old biscuits are for sale by the bag.
Serving Indian street food, dosas are gluten-free crepes made from lentils and rice. Choose from dosa plates and wraps like chicken curry, hot dogs, house-made kimchi, vegan curry, or cheese-filled.
Located downtown in a glass-walled corner, diners can select from seafood, chicken, meat, and vegetarian options at the upscale establishment. Next door sits The Lounge, stop by before or after dinner for drinks and jazz music on Friday nights.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, jam, bread, macarons, and other necessities are available. Pick up lunch or breakfast made to order. Artists and craftspeople sell the products and art they're so passionate about. Visit between May and October.
*Special thanks to Stephanie Bonin from the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance for her suggestions and contacts.