Online retail has spawned an era of impersonal shopping from soulless entities, leaving many shoppers feeling cold. But there is a flip side: the Internet also has allowed some smaller, more personal shops to blossom — shops that make you feel like you’re hanging out with the purveyor, having tea in front of a cozy fireplace. Catherine’s Table is just such a site.
The online shop offers handcrafted items for the table. As creator Maureen Goldman notes, aside from the kitchen, the dining room is the most soulful place of the house. Goldman believes that handmade things on the table add to the magical experiences that happen during meals; they lend warmth to a table and make it a richer place.
“The idea for Catherine’s Table sprang from an interest in comforting people through the table. It’s about much more than selling things. We want people to be comforted by the stories we tell and the feeling they get from having or sharing handmade things at a meal,” Goldman told MNN. “We want people who shop at Catherine’s Table to enjoy the experience and to feel appreciated.”
How very un-Amazon is that?
The Catherine of Catherine’s Table is Goldman’s Aunt Kay, who taught her how to sew, iron, shuck corn, slice a tomato, and churn butter — a woman whose spirit lifted everyone at the table. In honor of Kay, Goldman and company have searched high and low for handcrafted tabletop goods that are both heartfelt and fun. "Having the work of American artisans at our table is soulful and symbolizes community," Goldman said. They have gathered together a group of 26 artisans and purveyors who imbue spirit and beauty into the items they create. "Handcrafted work reflects the heartfelt effort of the artist who made it. There is a story in each piece," Goldman added.
To that end, each of the artisans have their own story section on the site, reminding us that the hands behind the goods are as important as the items themselves. Seeing the faces behind the workmanship creates a human connection, one that's missing all too often these days.
Some pieces have been commissioned for the store, like the linen placemat sets from Lora Douglas and the wonderful female author mugs by Justin Rothshank. Goldman says her family lives with almost every piece available at the shop, “getting to know how it works best at the table.” She loves everything they offer, but some of her favorites include Whitney Smith’s mini sprout vase, Justin Rothshank’s handled bowls, Zpots’s gratitude platter, Nicole Porter’s vintage etched lettuce napkins, and the Janke handblown glasses.
As she employs her goods at home, Goldman can attest to the fact that everything they sell is meant to be used every day and cared for with everyday methods — microwave, dishwasher, clothes washer, dryer. Handmade and beautiful as they may be, fussy they are not; they are a sturdy and durable.
And as is befitting to such a feel-good retail mission, Catherine’s Table has partnered with Meals on Wheels, the nonprofit that hand-delivers meals to more than 1 million homebound seniors every day. The site supports the charity because, “we wanted a way to show customers that we are grateful for their support. Meals on Wheels seemed like a good fit because they deliver meals by hand and help so many people. I volunteered for Meals on Wheels several years ago," Goldman said. "People really appreciated the human connection.”