WEST BRATTLEBORO >> In a room in the back of a yoga studio, residents and business owners tasted local eats and looked at or bought local products.

Lissa Stark, owner of Stark Naturals, wanted to hold "a mixer kind of an event."

"People could come in and meet each other and meet other small businesses. And small businesses could get a little promotion and people could taste companies' products and try things and see what people are selling," Stark said. "We have the gamut here. We have a soap maker, local pet products, wines, beers, pasta sauces, cheese, crackers, a local woodworker, pottery, all sorts of different products from people who come in."

Stark Naturals at 55 Marlboro Road in West Brattleboro is primarily used for yoga, she said of her business that opened in March. Some wellness and instruction classes are held there, with the occasional event as seen Sunday.

"This is the first event like this," said Stark, who envisions having others like it. "We're trying to get the community together and promote small businesses."

Samples were given out while food was tasted and products were sold. A poster on the wall said support for the event was provided by Castleton Crackers, Vermont Farmstead Cheese, Stark Farm Pottery, Hamilton Farm Sugar House, Ungrounded Coffee, Tavernier Chocolates, Pet Naturals of Vermont, Bear Hill Soap, Window of Heaven, Gringo Jacks and Vermont Soap.


Celeste O'Malley, owner of Old School Grooming in West Brattleboro and The Handsome Hound in Bennington, said Stark invited her to the event since Stark was trying to have Vermont business owners attend.

O'Malley's businesses focus on pet grooming. Her pet supply products are all-natural and organic.

"I try to stay as local as I can," she said, adding that she stays within America or Canada.

The Handsome Hound, open three days a week, has more products on site. The West Brattleboro facility on 96 Akley Road is smaller, allowing O'Malley to serve just one pet at a time. Clients usually bring their fuzzy friends in for sessions lasting an hour or an hour and a half. It is open two days a week.

Old School Grooming opened only a year and a half ago.

"It's been a little slow but it's nice," said O'Malley, who has groomed pets for over 30 years and has owned The Handsome Hound for 25 years. "It's specialized. I'm getting calls. People are happy with the work."

The industry as a whole, she said, is growing.

"People are trying to get away from the chemicals," O'Malley said.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.