It’s been about 15 years since I had my antiques shop in Pasadena, California, and somehow that shop bug has never left me. Since then, I’ve moved to New York and besides working in the city, I have settled into the wonderful town of Hillsdale, in Columbia County NY.
The overwhelming desire to restore every old building I’ve ever met has finally caught up with me with the purchase of an old building at the center of our hamlet, thanks to the partnership of David Ruede. Built in 1855 as a general store, it was sorely in need of restoration. Thanks to the brilliant renovation by master builder Adam Flaum, the building will be strong enough to survive another 150 years. But it also needed to be put to proper use.
Rather than an antiques shop, or a “design” shop, I wanted to create something a little more unique that hopefully fulfilled a need in our town. Because the building was created to hold a General Store it only seemed right to take it back to its roots. With that, the Hillsdale General Store was born.
While classic American country stores are quickly disappearing, I thought it was time for a reinvention of the idea of what a General Store could be. I know I’m working a bit against the trend of major chains killing Mom & Pop stores, but I can’t help but feel there is a certain appeal to “thinking small”. Besides fulfilling my desire to own a store again, another goal was to help (in my small way) the local economy of our town.
My version of the General Store is a place where one can find solid merchandise that’s not meant to end up in a landfill. Nothing plastic will dare to enter my doorway. Instead I have put together a mix of American-made pottery, carefully chosen local products, antiques and vintage pieces, house wares, a candy counter, green cleaning supplies and an assortment of affordable goods that embrace simple pleasures. Of course I couldn’t resist designing a few pieces, which are made by local crafts-people. I wanted the Hillsdale General Store to offer things available nowhere else in the world.
“Useful and beautiful things for country life” is my mantra, with some affordable classics thrown in to keep it real. That’s the Hillsdale General Store, a little store at the center of a town with a very big heart.