Local, handcrafted goods with character reign at Common Deer

Sharon Beal, amidst model bicycles and decorative arrows, has a personal relationship with every artisan represented at Common Deer.

Sharon Beal, amidst model bicycles and decorative arrows, has a personal relationship with every artisan represented at Common Deer.

By Meagan Downey

After nearly 20 years of making dreams come true for Vermont business owners, Charlotte resident Sharon Beal is realizing a dream of her own. Her newest venture is Common Deer – an online and storefront purveyor of handcrafted, fair trade, and repurposed vintage goods – and it opened its doors in Shelburne this October.

“This has been a dream of mine for thirty years,” said Beal. “Supporting fair trade and local artisans is my passion.”

Beal and her husband, John, are co-owners of the Charlotte-based Vermont Business Brokers, which has been matching businesses with new owners since 1996. Her ability to shepherd business owners and buyers through sales transactions has been heralded by clients and leading area business magazines.

Like Vermont Business Brokers, Common Deer is a family affair. Her daughter, Sarah, assists with buying, branding, and communications while her son, Johnny, is working to build an online presence for the store.

Beal and Sarah comb estate sales, flea markets, and buying shows across New England for décor with character. Soft, colorful blankets, locally-sourced ceramics, and decorative metal letters adorn the shop’s walls, juxtaposed with throw pillows featuring cheeky messages like “Be Nice or Leave” and “Call Your Mother.” Artisans include Charlotte’s own Kris Gerson and Shelburne’s Cricket Radio.

Common Deer also features handcrafted jewelry at affordable prices. “I love that we can support local artisans while still keeping prices affordable,” she says while turning over the price tag on a pair of earrings. “See? $36. And these are beautiful.”

Shoppers who lift their gaze above the flasks, coasters, clutches, and pretty baubles will also notice a curious thing around the neck of a faux deer head hanging on the wall – a life preserver. The life preserver and deer head symbolize Beal’s commitment to preserving wildlife, and she aims to make the business profitable enough to support efforts to protect animal habitats. Judging from her success in business, spanning over 40 years, there’s no doubt she will.

Everyone inquires about the genesis of the name. The Beals are a purported sailing family, and the name was meant to be a play on “commandeer.” Deer refers to the family’s interest in nature – but also invites people to throw up their hands in the shape of antlers when trying to explain how to spell the business name. The website encourages this “super fun” practice.

The essence of Common Deer, according to the family, is “the act of making something your own, embracing the character and story behind each purchase and gift.”

Common Deer is located at 5224 Shelburne Rd. in Shelburne. Almost anything can be ordered online at www.commondeervt.com. Sharon is also happy to take your call at 985-9800 for more information or to place an order.

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