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Meet N.W. Barrett of N.W. Barrett Gallery in Portsmouth

Today we’d like to introduce you to N.W. Barrett.

N.W., can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a jeweler. and had wholesale accounts throughout the country during the 1970’s and 80’s. In 1985, a retail space became available in Portsmouth….a lower level on Commercial Alley. I tried to get the League of N.H. Craftsmen to open a shop here, but they wouldn’t take the chance before doing market studies. So I went for it and invited fellow craftspeople to display their work there. In 1987, the city of Portsmouth was auctioning off 3 buildings, one being a commercial space on Market Street. It just happened that the president of Bank East walked by my shop every noon hour to pick up his mail, and liked what he saw in my display windows. He came and asked me if I would like to go to an auction, for a building in a much better location. I had no money, but he felt confident and said the bank would back me.

So in April I went to the auction and ended up getting the 3 1/2 story building, that now needed total renovation… walls, stairs, wiring, plumbing, ceilings, etc. I couldn’t find a contractor that would guarantee I could open for the Christmas shopping season, so I acted as general contractor and opened just before Thanksgiving. There were many challenges….my back was up against the wall, figuring out how I was going to make this work. Watching the budget, and sales closely, I’m still in business 30 years later.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When the first payment was due, I thought of jumping on a ship and leaving the country, but with a lot of hard work, and watching the budget carefully, I succeeded.

N.W. Barrett Gallery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Besides my own work, I show the work of several hundred craftspeople, from the United States.Everything is handmade…. furniture, glass blowing, ironwork, jewelry, fiber, pottery, etc. On the 2nd floor, I have a fine arts gallery, specializing in marine art and landscapes. What separates my gallery from others is the quality of the work…I grew up being exposed to fine handmade crafts, as well as art galleries, and it influenced my taste at an early age.

I am proud of the fact that it is possible to sell quality handmade crafts made in the US and survive in the business world for 30 years.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Being in business and surviving for 30 years, and still dealing with some of the same craftspeople that I started with.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 53 Market St.
    Portsmouth, N.H.
  • Website:
  • Phone: 603 431-4262
  • Email:

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