Any aficionado of bow ties will enjoy dropping by Beau Ties Ltd., 69 Industrial Ave. (tel. 800/488-8437;, a cottage industry that began as a retirement project. This firm designs, manufactures, and sells a quite distinctive line of the old-fashioned ties -- including some rather festive holiday-themed ties -- from a utilitarian building here in Middlebury; visitors are welcome. You're in good company if you do make it: Past customers of the firm have included such bow-tied luminaries as popcorn impresario Orville Redenbacher and TV celebrities Bill Nye and Charles Osgood.

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