When I arrived at 14 Centre Street for a chat with the man behind the creative endeavor that is Freedman’s of Nantucket, Don was swapping stories and sharing international adventures with some regular customers who are also world travelers. This gave me time to browse through the shop.
There’s always something new to discover here: a handcarved elephant with a vintage look, a set of sculpted candlesticks that look like harps; beautifully adorned photo frames, stunning lamps for a French Industrial decor; an enormous wall clock; handpainted boxes; an ice bucket of raw nickel that almost looks like pewter. And there are many items made from unusual materials: woven leather rugs, leather bars that are perfect for a summer retreat, beautiful boxes carved from bone or horn… whether you’re looking for an accent piece or to furnish an entire room, you’ll find treasures here that you’ll not see anywhere else on Nantucket.
Don motioned for me to follow him to the sun-drenched bench outside his shop to talk more about his inspiration and how he fills his shop with such unusual and sophisticated items.
As we settled in, a couple from New York exited the shop and confronted Don asking: “Are you the owner of this shop?” When he nodded, the man continued: “Because this is the most amazing store I’ve ever been in in my life! Thank you!”
When I asked if that happened often, Freedman smiled and said “I put a lot of effort into creating a store with a presence. We get a lot of repeat customers who make this a destination when they are on Nantucket…people who return and buy from us every year. It’s very rewarding.”
Freedman’s of Nantucket (formerly Expressions of Don Freedman) opened on Nantucket on Old South Wharf in 1981 and seven years ago moved to more spacious in-town location. Don Freedman is the designer for products made by carefully chosen craftspeople around the world. “I meet someone making a product to sell and redesign it for better quality… as a result our pieces are unique and can be sold for reasonable prices.”
He seeks items that have a “Wow factor” but aren’t gaudy: “many things [in the store] have a subtle nautical theme but they are artistically interesting, not cutesy.” Over the years, Freedman’s has evolved to match the tastes of those who visit Nantucket, describing his product line now as “more sophisticated, more elegant… We’ve done business with half the interior designers in town and several from Connecticut for their customers on- and off-island.”
Because each item is made by hand, Freedman explained, there is “a warmth and an honesty” to the pieces in his shop that you don’t often find in today’s market. With a mix of art and practicality, Freedman’s has something for every taste and decor.
Freeman’s of Nantucket • Open Daily at 14 Centre Street; 508-228-3291