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Chester County Press

The community's newest marketplace

12/03/2014 01:36PM ● By Richard Gaw

If there was ever a location that seems to have willed its current occupants to open its doors and become a part of its continuing history, it's the 19th-century building at the corner of Route 896 and State Road in New London.

It's the New London Marketplace, It's two stores -- Rooted and Burlap & Blooms -- under one roof, and it's the dream of Ali Smith, Ashley Rector, Sandi Bunker and Betsy Beehler.

The Marketplace, which opened on Nov. 29, offers customers and clients a diverse offering of items and services, all brought to a historic building lined with wooden floors and fireplaces. On one side, Burlap and Blooms, owned and operated by Smith and Rector, is an idea showplace, catering to those who wish to add a sparkle of floral designs and added touches to their wedding, birthday party, charity event or any other type of occasion.

"We ask for the dream event that they picture and we try to meet that with their budget," Smith said. "We started our business in 2011 out of my home, but being here allows us to have a special meeting place, where people can come together. This building is in the style of what we try to bring to our clients."

In addition to floral design and consultation, Smith and Rector have incorporated vintage rentals into their designs, such as using an old canoe for a wedding reception bar receptacle, an old door as a table, or lanterns that lend a Victorian-era vibe to any occasion, through the use of flowers, colors and textures.

"The trend is going more toward having something unique, a signature style, whether it be a wedding or any other kind of event," Rector said. "We love to incorporate a certain twist in the design of what we do. Instead of a simple arbor, for instance, we like to use lace embroidery hoops in order to make that arbor stand out."

On the other side, Rooted owners -- and sisters -- Sandi Bunker and Betsy Beehler and their niece Ashley Rector have created a cozy nook where customers can buy hand-made items from local artisans, as well as pre-packaged foods from local sources. As three multi-generational women who’s history and roots are deeply entrenched in the local community, they have decided to open Rooted. They hope to highlight the abundance of talent in the community. They are excited to have entered into a partnership with Burlap and Blooms. They are hoping to offer community members a place to find a quality, one of a kind gift item or treat for themselves.

Into the new year, they will continue to bring new food and gift items that will offer our customers accessibility to high-quality, local merchandise

In any given week, Rooted will be filled with personal accessory handbags, aprons, pillows, kitchen items, children's gift items, jewelry, as well as chocolate, honey and various olive oils. Rooted is working on plans for the future to offer weekly specials designed to bring a variety of

exciting carry out food options to our customers.

For visitors who become customers and fiances who become brides, a visit to the New London Marketplace is intended not just to be a place for great service and homespun items. It's a piece of the history of the area kindly brought to a new century, one that had been illuminated in two picture books written and published by the two sister’s father.

"Our parents would be so proud of us doing this," Bunker said. "My dad loved this town, and you can't imagine what it would be like for him to know that we're now here, in this historic building. This is so much more than just bringing two businesses together. This is to bring something to the community, because we are all so rooted in our community."

"We'd like to provide a community space for people to find gifts for families, find special things for themselvs, and have a place that feels like they're home, where they're comfortable coming to, whether they need something or not," Beehler said. "When we all grew up here, there truly was a sense of community. What we're trying to do is bring that sense of community back."

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail

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