LITTLETON—Main Street boutique, Art To Go is celebrating 21 years in business! Owner Kate Goldsborough, originally from Burlington, Vt., relocated to the Littleton area in 1994 after living in New York City.
“Before I opened the store, I met friends of my artist sister, Paula Wolcott, who were here after the closing of Franconia College,” noted Goldsborough, “and they didn’t seem to have any place to show their work.” Goldsborough opened Art To Go in a heat wave in the summer of 1995.
“85 Main Street was kind of a dump at that point. My dad and I were on ladders putting oil paint over the old panel walls at temperatures well over 100 degrees getting it ready for opening.” Goldsborough explained. “I’d asked all these wonderful artists to show their work in my new gallery, and I wasn’t going to do it with the florescent lighting that existed in there. Everyone graciously trusted me to take work on consignment, even though I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!”
Fortunately for Goldsborough, she had Liz Ward Penny at Small Business Development Center who did. “I was an actress from New York, and that she loved my business plan was a surprise. That I knew enough to go to her was another,” Goldsborough laughed. “She had to teach me how to pull the trigger on the bookkeeping details.”
Goldsborough acknowledges gratitude for Littleton business owners who were generous around her early steps into retail, such as Ned Densmore of the Village Bookstore, Ellen Pritham of Duck Soup, Muffy and Anna of The Elephants Trunk and Barry Field of the Littleton Bike Shop. “I remember Barry and Dave came to see me and admitted they were surprised when they could tell I was actually in for the long game,” Goldsborough revealed. “‘We kind of laughed at you’, they said. ‘We were pretty sure you’d be another craft store casualty on Main Street. I mean, you couldn’t even afford your own ladder for the first three years!’”
There was one who was her steady eddy from the start, however, and that would be her German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, Boo Radley. He was Goldsborough’s friendly partner and greeter at Art To Go during the early years. Customers and neighbors remember Boo’s intelligence. There were many stories of his unusual behavior. People love to recount how he’d wait alone at the crosswalk for cars to stop before sauntering across the street to rest on the library lawn. Goldsborough taught him to wait each time when he was a young dog while they lived in Hanover where Goldsborough was attending Dartmouth College. Boo saw the transition of the shop from art gallery to craft gallery blended with Mexican imports.
“Before I started to travel for cool finds, Mexico wasn’t new to me,” Goldsborough explained. “My mother was a painter and loved the light, so we’d been there. But it was my sister, Paula, who had the idea to go shop for the store in Mexico. People had warned me I’d never make it unless I had small things to sell. At first four of us went and hauled duffle bags of cool stuff back. But later, some of those solo trips I took got pretty hairy. I basically had to resign myself to accept I could lose all my bounty anywhere along the way.”
She continued, “Mexico gave me a crash course in courage, resilience, an ability to communicate in a language I didn’t know and confidence in my sense of taste. Customers seemed excited every time I came back,” Goldsborough noted. “They would come in and buy items off the floor as I was pricing them. Back then I had no idea I had a good eye.”
In the early 2000s, Goldsborough put her eye to good use in another area. She legitimized her longtime love of cutting friends’ hair by doing a cosmetology apprenticeship and adding a hair salon to the store. Clothes and make-up naturally followed as she’d done make-up for theatre since high school.
“The evolution was natural,” Goldsborough explained. “I was sad to lose most of the art and high end crafts, but it became clear with my history of styling that it was the right niche for me.”
Along with shopping Art To Go’s boutique, customers also enjoy the style advice of Goldsborough and her staff. “It’s super fun to help people find the right look and see them feel good about themselves,” said Goldsborough. “Everything at Art To Go works together, and there’s a thematic flow between salon and boutique.”
Goldsborough has taken her styling one step further by starting Kate Goldsborough Lifestyling. “It’s consulting in people’s homes, working on their clothes closets, style and grooming- something I’ve always done for friends to begin with.” Goldsborough is also a professional stylist for photo shoots in Boston, New York, and Miami.
The mantra Goldsborough teaches is, “Beauty is a decision.” With her lifestyling consultations and a six-week workshop titled the same, she’s on a mission to help women feel beautiful on the inside and out, resulting in a confidence that radiates.
Back at the store, Goldsborough invites the public to Art To Go’s 21st Birthday Celebration on Thursday, Dec. 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be wine (from Art To Go), hors d’oeuvres from Chang Thai Cafe, raffles, music, and all the fun of a typical 21st birthday party.
For more on Art To Go, Kate Goldsborough Lifestyling and her 6-week course, “Beauty is a Decision,” visit www.kategoldsborough.com.