Village Common is a lifestyle online shop selling artisanal, handmade, and vintage goods. Established in 2014 by Blake Hays and Benjamin Lebel, the Village Common is named after Ben’s grandmother’s antique shop that was opened in Avenel, New Jersey in 1968. The shop name was chosen in 1968 to reflect a gathering place where all are welcome, and it is the same ethos today that the partners want to translate into their virtual shop. Village Common is best known for their handmade candles that are inspired by Ben and Blake’s travels across America. Each candle is accompanied by an original written poem by Blake to add a narrative of their experiences. All of their products are handmade in their studio in Pennsylvania, using local American suppliers whenever possible. Ben and Blake are consistently trying to develop their online store, and they wholesale their line to about 60 stores in America. They sell to a range of customers from young to old, who are looking to buy something unique that tells a story.
Third generation shopkeepers, Ben Lebel and Blake Hays credit their parents as being their business mentors. Both Ben and Blake are inspired by fellow creatives, artists, and artisans. Blake, a guitar player, is inspired by music and 60’s and 70’s fashion, whereas Ben, an architect, is inspired by the architecture he sees in his travels. They would love to have a brick and mortar shop in the future, and decided to sell online first as a virtual shop allows them to experiment and refine their product mix. Ben and Blake carefully selected other makers to feature on Village Common. Some of Ben and Blake’s favorite places to shop are flea markets including: Hudson River Exchange’s Farm + Flea and Phoenicia Flea. They also admire Stray Vintage in Sunnyside, Queens, Upriver Home in Milford, Pa., and Alter in Brooklyn.
On the Future of Retail
“We think the future of retail is really based on the business owner. We think anyone, including ourselves, will have to create a space that has more than just great product. We want to create an experiential shopping space. “
Photos Courtesy of Village Common & Erin Lindsey @escapebrooklyn