Let’s go Shopping at Milton Market

January 3, 2024

Makers meet the community at this Litchfield, Connecticut, store.

Text by Tovah Martin     Photography by Bleacher + Everard

Litchfield’s Main Street is legendary for its window shopping and historic ambience, but at the end of an adjacent alleyway, Cobble Court takes the time warp to another level. Weathered brick buildings with century-worn wooden doors hung on hand-forged hardware surround a cobbled courtyard where wagons once maneuvered.

Nobody with even the slightest glimmer of interest in shopkeeping could resist the draw of that courtyard, least of all Martha Fish. Not only was Fish weary from her weekly commute from Litchfield’s Milton neighborhood to her job in New York City’s fashion district, but she was also tired of schlepping entertaining essentials. “If I wanted glassware, serving platters, candlesticks, or so many other practical elements, I had to bring them from the city,” she says. “There was nowhere to get tabletop locally at the time.” When much-coveted retail space in Cobble Court became available in 2019, she nabbed it, and Milton Market came to life.

“It’s like a muse,” Fish says of Milton Market’s location. Halfway between Boston and New York, the building was once a blacksmith shop serving the stable next door. After whitewashing the interior’s formerly drab, gray-painted brick to give it a glow, Fish went hunting for artisans to fill domestic needs with beautiful objects. She didn’t have to search far; the neighborhood turned out to be teeming with talent. Before long, Milton Market became a liaison between local craftsmen and the community.

With its layered patinas, the shop balances sparkle and sleek with soft and nubby. Contemporary stemware is displayed beside vintage transferware and yellowware, while matte-glazed ceramics from local potters like Judy Jackson and Ben Wolff rest nearby. Snuggly wool products from the flock at Farmington’s Hill-Stead Museum are thrown over a bespoke plywood chair. “Everything has a story,” Fish explains, “everything adds richness. It’s the juxtaposition between modernity and artisanal.” And nothing is self-important. “I don’t want it to feel reverential,” she says. “The merchandise should be dimensional, interesting, and dynamic.”

But there’s another layer to the formula: Fish uses the space to host demonstrations and workshops. That might be her proudest moment. More than just a shopkeeper, Fish sees herself as a conduit. “One artisan leads to the next. My goal is to create community around a new generation of creatives.” Milton Market, Litchfield, miltonmarketct.com

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