Local clothing store celebrating 40 years
by Andrew Pavia
Oct 10, 2012 | 1291 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the front parlor of her brownstone in Boreum Hill, Nancy Cogen opened up The Melting Pot in 1972. She began selling hand-dyed clothing using a centuries-old Indonesian technique she had become obsessed with.

Before opening up The Melting Pot, Cogen was a stay-at-home mother of three, until she discovered that her passion for “batik,” the hand-dyed clothing, could be transformed into a business venture. The Melting Pot will be celebrating it's 40th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 21, with a two-day event bringing the community together.

The celebration event will feature demonstrations, workshops and entertainment.

The specialty store, which is located at 492 Atlantic Avenue, is run by Cogen and her daughter Tammy Johnson, who joined her mother in the business in 1990. Both women hand make the batik-style t-shirts that are sold in the store.

Over the past 40 years, clothes from the shop have been features on “The Cosby Show,” “The Door in the Floor,” and “Rachel at the Weeding.”

Now as the store celebrates its ruby anniversary, Johnson hopes to see it through the next 40 years. Cogen handed the reins over to her daughter in 2006, but she continues to work alongside Johnson describing herself as a “semi-retired volunteer.”

Both women take pride in the fact that all of the products produced at The Melting Pot are made using all-natural fibers. The graphics that have been features on the t-shirts over the years include renderings of dragons, hearts, flowers, birds, pandas and other animals, with around 70 basic patterns in rotation.

“The Dragon t-shirt was practically a uniform for St. Ann's School in the 1970s,” Cogen said. “Parents liked it for the quality of the fabric and kids were drawn to it for the bright colors and the image of a happy, smiling one-fanged creature whose tail continues to the back of the shirt.”

But The Melting Pot isn't limited to shirts, with a line of pillows, totes, scarves, baby items and other accessories for children and adults. “Perhaps the most fun we had was when we designed men's underwear,” Cogen said.

During the anniversary event, the store will give workshops on Oil Pastel Resistant Watercolor drawing from 2 to 4 p.m., and everyone will be invited to partake in the 40 percent-off sale. There will be face painting for children and cookies will be distributed during the events.

And expect to see Cogen around the shop whenever she can make it.

“I'd feel guilty just sitting at home,” she said.
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