Calico Patch owner Emily Hartung shows embroidered balsam pillows, quintessential gift store merchandise. The upper shelf holds right-handed mugs; the lower shelf has left-handed ones. Franklin Journal photo by Nicole Carter

FARMINGTON — Emily Hartung has seen a lot of changes in downtown Farmington since she and two friends started the gift and consignment shop Calico Patch.

Partners Mary Bitterauf and Marsha Planting have moved on. Local consignment crafters have rotated in and out of the store.

Now, after 37 years, Hartung has decided it’s time to retire.

“We started with straight consignment,” Hartung said of the shop’s early days. “We couldn’t pay ourselves, never mind pay for inventory. As we grew we brought in well-known brands from all over. But we try to maintain connections with Maine businesses to support our local economy.

“We also made it a point to prioritize ‘pay it forward’ type of businesses. We pay careful consideration to the philosophies and values of our producers.”

One example of those extended values is clothing and accessories company Ivory Ella, which donates 10% of its profits to support the conservation group Save the Elephants.

Local suppliers include Stonewall Kitchens. Massachusetts’ Yankee Candle was a major supplier,  although once the company was sold to a major retailer the product was phased out of inventory and replaced by Virginia-based Kringle Candle. Kringle was founded by the son of Yankee Candle’s founder.

Burt’s Bees has also been a legacy presence at Calico Patch.

“When Burt’s was still a family business, they used to hold seminars here in the store on their products,” Hartung said. “They used our space to educate customers. I loved working with them in those days. Their philosophy was that anything they sold could be ingested — if you put something on your skin it’s still going into your body so it needs to be healthy.

Some of the children’s books by local authors and illustrators sold at the Calico Patch. Franklin Journal photo by Nicole Carter

“We also have featured a number of local authors and illustrators, especially in our children’s section.”

While most of the products in the Calico Patch have classic, dignified appeal, customers can also find a bit of whimsy.

“Some of the personalized signs are fun,” Hartung said. “I like one we recently sold listing rules for dating daughters.”

Carol Hardy of Farmington has been supplying hand-knitted children’s apparel to the Calico Patch only since last winter. She is sorry to see the shop take its swan song and appreciates the work Hartung has put into it.

“It has been great working with the Calico Patch,” she said. “I was a longtime customer before a consignor. Emily has been very easy to work with. She was excited about our product and so helpful bringing our line into her store. We haven’t been doing sales long, but Emily’s efforts really helped establish our brand, Outdoor Babies.”

Outdoor Babies consigns hand-knitted children’s apparel to the Calico Patch. Franklin Journal Photo by Nicole Carter

Hartung has been scaling down operations for a while. The Calico Patch employees three people part-time, a drop from the store’s high point of nine. This year consignors have dropped from 18 to 14.

“We are not bringing any more inventory in so we are no longer able to place special orders,” Hartung said. “We will not box or gift wrap any sale merchandise. The markdown sale will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and continue as warranted.”

The Calico Patch will remain open until Dec. 31, or until all inventory has been sold. Anyone with a gift certificate is urged to use it as soon as possible.

“I’ve made so many friends here,” Hartung said. “It was a difficult decision, but it’s time for me to start a new chapter. I will be able to spend more time with my grandkids. And I plan to take pleasure in new artistic endeavors of my own.”

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