The Bag Lady of Lambertville

At age four, Chery Lin fell in love with handbags. Decades later, she fell in love with vintage handbags that revealed to her a kind of beauty she’d never seen. “Even something as simple as a handbag, if beautifully designed and crafted, can give you pleasure every day,” she says.

By the late 1990s, Lin’s handbag collection had all but filled her Connecticut home, at which point her husband, Andy, said, “Enough!” That unambiguous statement came soon after Lin’s 50th birthday, around the time she decided that she no longer wanted to work as a marketing and advertising executive. In March 2000, Lin booked her first New York City pier show selling handbags. In just two days she sold 100 of the exquisitely styled, fine-leather bags from the 1940s to the 1970s.

The following year, Lin and her husband were visiting Lambertville. “I saw this vacant shop,” Lin says, “and something told me to give it a try.” In March 2002 she opened Mix Gallery (17 S Main St; 609-773-0777). From her collection of more than 3,000 bags, she displays some 400 at a time.

These days Lin and her husband split their time between their Connecticut home and their small Lambertville apartment. In a knockoff age, Mix offers objects of singular beauty and craftsmanship. For Lin, who can supply the design history of each bag, handbags aren’t just functional; they’re a woman’s signature accessory. “Life,” she says, “is about all the little things that you enjoy along the way.”

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