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MiVT: Stave Puzzles

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 1:37 PM EDT
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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - Inside the confines of one White River Junction building, sits a world of puzzling possibilities.

Deemed “The Rolls Royce of Puzzles” by Smithsonian Magazine, Stave Puzzles is tough to beat in both quality and wit.

“Where we really excel is in our customer service, where we roll out the red carpet,” explained marketing coordinator Briana Paronto. “That’s how we describe it, red carpet service.”

Customer service is actually how they got their start. This company originally started as games, crafted in a Norwich garage by two guys, Steve and Dave, back in the ‘70s.

That is until someone called from Boston and asked if they’d make a jigsaw puzzle.

“So, Steve was like ‘OK, well how much did you pay for this?’ And in 1974, the gentleman said, ‘$300.’ So Steve said, ‘Hunh,’” Paronto said.

With a price tag like that for some trivial fun, the next step was no mind-bender.

“Drove down to Boston, met up with this gentleman, took home a couple of his puzzles and started dabbling. And that’s essentially how Stave was born,” Paronto said.

Now owned by two-long time employees, Paula and Jennifer, Stave Puzzles are not your average everyday puzzles.

“You’re essentially getting a one-of-a-kind piece of art,” Paronto said.

These thick, wooden puzzles are decorated with art from across the world before being cut by creators in-house, piece by piece.

“We handcraft them. We don’t use lasers, templates or any fancy gadgets. It’s all [done free-hand] by some wonderful artisans. They actually sit down at a saw, push the wood toward the blade and turn it to make those intricate cuts,” Paronto explained.

Puzzle cutters work an apprenticeship before they’re allowed to cut puzzles for high-paying customers.

This is where the Rolls Royce price tag comes into play; a 250-piece traditional puzzle will cost you around $3,000. Stave also doesn’t market their puzzles, they leave them for guests to enjoy at luxury resorts across the country.

That’s because this puzzle company says they’re catering to people who can afford to be truly stumped.

“Ours will have an irregular edge you did not know was coming to you. Our boxes do not have a picture on them, so it’s something that just kind of reveals itself as you start putting it together,” said Paronto.

The puzzles are decorated with silhouettes, relevant to the puzzle’s topic throughout.

“We take and craft along the line of the image so you can’t use color cues to know where the sky would meet the building’s roof,” she said.

Not to mention, artisans will put your name in the puzzle if you’d like. There are riddles put in each one, along with the Stave clown motif, and even extra puzzle pieces. Some puzzles even have multiple ways they can be put together.

“We also put fake corner pieces within the middle of your puzzles,” laughed Paronto.

These notoriously difficult puzzled are beloved by big names from across the country, with letters from the Bush family and the British royal family.

Fortunately, the price tag for hints isn’t high; these tricksters take bribes in the form of M&M’s candy. It’s a small price to pay for answers to these highly customizable, thoughtful and downright frustrating brain teasers.

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