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Uncle Jon’s Soaps makes fresh start in new location

Uncle Jon’s Soap owner Jon Conley stands inside his new storefront on 12 Pitts Street in Berlin.

Conley said moving from William Street to the new location gave him about 60 square feet more room for new stock.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Feb. 7, 2019) About four years after opening on 12 William Street, Uncle Jon’s Soaps has moved just around the corner into a bigger and more visible space on 12 Pitts Street in downtown Berlin.

“We needed more square footage. That was the main reason [for the move],” shop owner Jon Conley said. “It’s not huge in here, but it does give us about another 60 square feet, so we can lengthen our workbench and have a little more working room back here so we’re not tripping over each other all the time.”

Conley said the bigger space would mean a larger production volume for his line of all-natural handmade soaps, as well as the introduction of a handful of new items.

“There’s a couple products that we couldn’t have on the shelf before, like aftershaves. There just wasn’t room for it, so we [previously] made those as we went,” he said. “Our new goal is to have our 12 most popular scents in aftershaves on the shelf. We do make a cologne line now as well, so that’ll start going on the shelf, and we have shampoo and beard wash that we’re working on.

“Overall, we’ll be able to add a couple more products that we make and there’ll be room for more accessories,” Conley added.

Those include alpaca scarves provided by Inca Ruins, a store that previously occupied the space. Most recently, it was the Burley Florist.

Conley said the new location offers greater visibility, although perhaps not as much architectural distinctiveness.

“There’s definitely more eyeballs going by the front door, especially with cars coming out of the parking lot and foot traffic,” he said. “We lose some of the uniqueness of the front of the building, but I think it’ll be a decent tradeoff with the amount of foot traffic going by. And my regulars know to look for me, so I won’t lose those guys.”

The shop reopened on Jan. 24, albeit with some boxes still to unpack and other odds and ends to tidy up.

“This place was piled full of boxes,” Conley said with a laugh. “We told people, come on in, you’re just going to have to wade through the piles while we get straight.”

By late last week, the store was cleaned up and ready to showcase Conley’s many homemade product lines.

“Bath soaps is our bread and butter,” he said. “It’s bath soaps and body scrubs, and then we get into the more niche stuff with traditional shaving soaps and beard supplies, beard conditions, and oils and balms.

“We do offer some traditional shaving tools, like shaving brushes and double-edge razors, the old school stuff,” he continued. “And then there’s a little bit of art stuff thrown in the mix, just to kind of break things up. But we’re mainly a bath and body shop.”

Conley said Uncle Jon’s isn’t really a men’s shop or a women’s shop, but rather a little bit of something for everyone, with a lot of himself thrown in.

“It’s just me,” he said. “Some people do think of it as a men’s shop, because we do take up a lot of space with the shaving and beard stuff, but there’s a lot more in here.”

In the future, Conley said he may have just enough space to do small “make and take” classes, teaching customers about the art of soap making.

“I could set up a six-foot folding table and do a small class,” he said. “I might even be able to clear the workbench and let them work on the line in the work bench for small space. I’m hoping maybe we can do a couple of those this summer.”

The old 12 William Street location will soon be home to Berlin artist Patti Backer’s new studio and shop, The Dusty Lamb.

Store hours at Uncle Jon’s Soaps are Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

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