Shopkeeper Spotlight: Township Four
Nathan Hanford and Jed Thompson (owners)
Where: Stockbridge, Massachusetts
While on a recent visit to Massachusetts we took a little trip to meet Nathan Hanford and Jed Thompson, owners of the extraordinary new floral and gift emporium Township Four.
In this unique floristry and home goods store, their deep history in horticulture and floral design, in merchandising and dance, and in Berkshire County itself came together in the choreography of this space.
To hear from Nathan, in person, how they connected so deeply with aloka made our day, especially after so many years of not being able to travel to meet our stockists.
“We love how the patches and care over the years make sure the lifespan of these quilts continue. We believe the fabric and the stitches soaked up all of the love and energy and stories of those who made them and kept them in use and this is what we strive for here at Township Four. More than any other product we carry, aloka expresses what we strive for here.”
Create a verbal moodboard for the vision of Township Four.
Nathan: Forest Floor meets apothecary jar...Forgotten boxes of silk thread skeins meet cocktail hour...a wild child emerging from the woods with hemlock twigs in their hair...a wooden carpenter's chest waiting to be opened in an otherwise empty barn meets endless armfuls of fresh cut flowers.
Tell us about the shop you owned in London. What did you learn from that experience that helped you to expand a vision for Township Four?
Nathan: My open hand embroidery studio in London taught me to always think on my feet, creating “The Sewing Fox of Columbia Road Flower Market” taught me to stay flexible, and openly show my skills for people to view while shopping. Producing work live, whether floral work or hand embroidery, lends an energy to the shop space that instantly sparks a desire within the clientele to be creative and gain inspiration from their visit. To look at things with the eyes of a child, stay curious, ask and answer questions… and always follow my heart.
Set the stage: What’s the general vibe of the surrounding area and clientele?
Nathan: Rolling hills of pasture, forest, and wetlands. Gilded era estates, summer escapes to lake houses and and woodland cottages, leisurely evenings filled with music, dance, theatre, cocktail and dinner parties with friends and family. Winters are for hibernating and feeding your soul with good books and firelight… and planning next year's gardens…There are people from all walks of life and the pandemic has introduced many new people fleeing cities to experience the lifestyle here.
How do you keep it fresh for customers and exciting for you too?
Nathan: I treat the shop like a lacework of rooms, constantly altering the space, a web of sorts, I watch where the human eye comes to rest, where the body wants to move to… then I create stories with the merchandise in the spots where people feel most comfortable to take it all in, share a story with their companion about their grandmother’s singer sewing machine… or turn to a family member or friend and say “remember when…” and suddenly a beautiful memory is shared between them. It is important to me that the space speaks through the words of the people that move through it. They inspire me to find new curiosities, furnishings, and objects that are both useful and beautiful.
Currently a gentle mix of:
Carole King, and many other brilliant women.