Marie Fortier

Marie Fortier - Shopkeeper

Marie Fortier and BelleNo. 71 Main Street was built in the late 1880s after the last of the three fires that destroyed downtown Wilton. It has always been a store of some kind, including Vanni’s Fruit for many years in the early 1900s followed by a variety store and a convenience store. For the last 28 years it has been “Here Today Emporium – Antiques to Zany.”

Here Today shop“I call it an emporium because I have a little bit of everything,” owner Marie Fortier said recently. “Candles, silks, cards, hats – people really like the straw hats.” But it is mostly collectibles –old china and glass, pictures, “some of Gary Crooker’s old books, I love those,” and natural products from Earthward.

 The Vanni family, and perhaps other owners, lived in the upstairs apartment, but Marie’s shop occupies both floors, five rooms of pieces of history.

 Marie and her husband, “Chick” Wetherbee, were married in 1973 and moved to West Wilton “about 30 years ago,” she said. They purchased the Martha Fletcher house, which was built in 1830. “We learned that she’s buried at Vale End Cemetery and we’ve visited her a couple of times. We just love her and her house.”

 Originally from Manchester, Marie’s mother worked in a friend’s natural food store in Bedford.  “She offered to help me when I opened the Milford Earthward store about 45 years ago”, she said. “It was then on Elm Street.” It has been on Route 101A for many years with the Ponemah Farms store. “I’ve really had only three jobs, hairdresser, Earthward and this one. I’ve always been self-employed and I like it.”

 When she opened Here Today, she said, “I chose antiques because I wanted to do something different.”

BelleShe has always had a little dog in the store with her. Her current companion is six-year-old Belle, her fifth pug. “She has her own chair behind the counter,” Marie said, and greets the customers with her happy smile.

 There have been a lot of changes in town over the years, she said. “It’s unbelievable.” Her shop is one of three oldest on Main Street. She referred to her neighbors, the two older ones, as “the mayors of Main Street,” barber Elmer Santerre at one end and “Put,” clothier Dick Putnam at the other, both active civic-minded residents, “there to help anybody.”

 While some of the changes are sad, businesses closing or leaving, there are a lot of positives. “The Main Street Park is very nice, so pretty. So many people use it. Children come and play in it.”  The unusual gently flowing stone fountain “is so different.”

 Marie recalled Carl Anderson, long-time proprietor of The Color Chop, the long-ago Post Office and now home to Local Share. It’s going to change again, she said, “and possibly become an art gallery or studio.”

 The movies at the Town Hall Theater bring a lot of out-of-towners, she said, “and they come in here, but we need to attract more local people downtown as well, through special events like Summerfest and others. She added, “there is so much here, restaurants and the chocolate store. When the state opens up again maybe people can congregate downtown once more.” [Editor’s note: A three-day “Wander Through Wilton” event, including music in the Main Street Park and participation by the Riverview Mill Artists, is planned for Mother’s Day weekend May 7-9, 2021].

 Here Today is currently open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be reached at 654-5295.

 

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