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South End resident opens kitchenware, cooking store on Shawmut Ave.

Posted by  May 9, 2014 03:30 PM

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Catherine Pears

Abby Ruettgers lived and worked in the South End for years before opening Farm and Fable. A kitchenware store that also hosts cooking classes, private events, and tastings.

On the corner of Shawmut Ave. and Milford St. sits a brightly lit, open-floor-plan shop. Vintage cookbooks line the walls and copper pans sit atop an old stove.

Farm and Fable opened in November of last year and has been selling kitchenware and hosting cooking classes, private events, and tastings in its downstairs “cooking classroom” ever since.

Owner Abby Ruettgers opened the shop after living in the South End for eight years and working in and out of the restaurant business, including at the famous Flour Bakery.

Ruettgers said she came up with the concept for her store based on the idea of having both retail and a kitchen.

“I’ve lived in the South End for years too so I knew the neighborhood really well,” Ruettgers said. “It’s such a food-focused neighborhood. We’ve got Coppa across the street. We’ve got Formaggio. So you’ve got a neighborhood population that’s already really focused on what we do here, so I think it’s really a natural fit.”

Farm and Fable is filled with goods from mostly New England sourced suppliers. In recent years there has been a trend towards American-made products, and Ruettgers said South Enders seem to understand why that is important.

“There are a lot of shops in the South End that are dedicated to that,” said Ruettgers. “But it’s good because I think people are starting to appreciate that the price point is a little higher for those goods but the quality is through the roof.”

Ruettgers not only knows sources locally for her products, she knows the people who made them by name. She points from one item to the next in the store, naming who made it and where it came from.

“Courtney and Bailey make our aprons,” Ruettgers said. “Adam makes our oyster knives. Jim makes our pans. I know the people. I get to visit their studios. I get to see where they work and that makes it really fun. And then people get to invest in really beautifully crafted kitchenware.”

Possibly more eye catching than the copper pots and baskets of potpourri is the wall of new and vintage cookbooks. Ruettgers finds the cookbooks, as well as other vintage kitchenware, at estate sales, auctions, and private sellers. She said she looks for highly collectible cookbooks as well as fun, “kitchy,” ones with titles such as The I Love Peanut Butter Cookbook, or Clementine in the Kitchen.

After living in the South End for years and knowing the area well says it is the perfect location for Farm and Fable. Ruettgers said the South End’s neighborhood vibe extends to small-business owners, allowing them to interact with each other and customers in a personal way.

“There is this collective effort that I like. Our customers notice it. They notice that we’re very cooperative,” Ruettgers said. “Our businesses complement each other because we’re all these independently owned small shops, and we all benefit when everyone does well.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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