Despite a horse death in the ring and a brouhaha over box seats, the show goes on at Devon. The Main Line’s signature event reports record crowds. (Sunny days will do that.) A bevy of new shops is also keeping things hopping – 10 of the Country Fair’s 40 vendors are new this year – usually it’s just 4 or 5. Stellar newcomers include:
Eastcote Lane is doing boffo box office with its re-imagined “upcycled” vintage furniture. Teresa Decker’s new booth is so busy she’s running back and forth to her Devon workshop/store to paint/retrieve items for her stall.
The most original new stall is 4MULA, fresh from the Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market. Not only does 4MULA grow rare organic succulents and sedums in Philly and Narberth, it makes cool hypertufa pots to put them in. Also for sale are 4MULA living walls, living tree ornaments, living moons (suspended terrariums) and its patented BarBox line of soaps. In a nifty twist, Devon shoppers can design their own succulent planters.
Making me nostalgic for my cycling trip through Provence is La Cigale (bonus points if you know cigale means cicada), selling sunny French Provencal Linens. Ideal for outdoor dining (and sloppy eaters like me) are La Cigale’s acrylic-coated cloth tablecloths.
Most la-di-da newbie award goes to Katherine Hooker, a British designer whose duds are sported by swells at Royal Ascot. (Royal Ascot is like Devon – but in England and with royalty).
A-listers like Kate, Pippa, Sienna and Taylor are all Katherine Hooker fans. An FYI: Katherine Hooker’s name is not on her stall. The line shares space with returnee Liza Hennessy, creator of bags and belts made from tack-quality components and full-grain bridal leathers. The KH sale rack on the stall’s front porch has some smashing buys!
Back after a year off, Boutique Street is stopping traffic with its monster-size monograms and fashion jewelry.
Of course, the best-selling booth – and it isn’t even close – is Devon Souvenirs. Run by the Devon Country Fair itself, the Devon blue cottage’s tees, hats and Devon logo sundries – and its kiddie shop next door – gross as much as all the other pop-ups combined, says Gail McCarthy, Devon Country Fair co-chair.
“It’s nice to rotate in some new shops to keep it fresh, ” says McCarthy. “I’m hearing a really good vibe this year.”
She explained that national names like Anthropologie, J. McLaughlin and Lululemon (another 2015 newbie) pay a flat fee for their stalls while mom and pops pay a smaller upfront free (varies with stall size and location) and give 10 percent of sales to Bryn Mawr Hospital, the horse show’s annual beneficiary. About 40 percent of the Devon Country Fair’s donation to the hospital comes from the shops, she says.
They may be running ragged stocking their stalls but shopkeepers generally seem to relish their days at Devon. They enjoy getting reacquainted with their vendor neighbors and customers from around the country, says Susan Randels, owner of one Devon’s top-selling pop-ups, Polka Dots.
If the 40 vendors near the midway aren’t enough – and you’re hard-core horsey – wander behind the far grandstand for shops run by the horse show itself, a separate but aligned entity.
BTW ladies, Wednesday is Ladies Day so dust off your most tempting topper and get shopping!