Check out some of my fave Holiday design layouts I did this season! What’s your fave?? I think mine is the Stocking Stuffers layout. Happy Holidays. xo, Chris
“Reading is FUNdamental.” I remember learning this slogan when I was a child and it couldn’t have been more true then. It’s still true today. Information and knowledge are both powerful, and we get that from books. Jessica DuPont, owner of Kingston’s Half Moon Books believes that books, rare and vintage, will slow us down and save the world. And I believe her. It’s a dream-come-true to do her store window displays for the past few years so I want to share the love and share the Moon… Let’s meet Jessica!
How did Half Moon Books begin?
I was waiting for a pizza and walked by this decrepit, weird bookstore that had a sign that said “business for sale.” Six months later, I owned it. I had never worked in a bookstore or owned my own business but something told me I could do it, create a great used bookstore. Nine years later I’m still here.
How did you come up with the store’s name?
The year I bought my store was the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s sailing to America on the Half Moon, so it felt like an auspicious choice. Plus I knew the name would lend itself to a great logo. My sister designed it and she did not disappoint!
You make house calls to look at and possibly buy people’s book collections? Tell us about that process.
I love house calls and looking at collections! It’s an opportunity to examine a life through the books that the person chose. I am often asked to look at books after someone has passed away so my only contact with them will be through the knowledge they pursued, the well-worn copies of stories they loved, or a child's book with a name carefully inscribed in crayon. That’s the romantic version. Usually what happens is people have accrued a massive number of books and want to make sure that as many as possible will find a good home. I make that happen.
When you’re picking books for the store, what are some of your key criteria?
Well, there are no brainers, titles that I know will sell. Stuff like Harry Potter is a pretty safe bet. I also operate on instinct. I have a wide variety of interests, so mostly I gamble that the books that I find interesting, that I will want to read, will spark something in my customers. I don’t think you can have a retail shop like mine and not have confidence in your taste. I bet if someone were to make a study of my shelves they would discover some interesting aspect of my personality that I’m not even conscious of.
Why are “real books” still so important to you?
Books slow us down, encourage contemplation and a deeper dive into an area of interest. Fiction can reveal truths about human nature and give us the gift of inhabitation - full immersion into another person’s perspective. Like everybody else, I spend a lot time on screens and what I find relaxing about reading paper books is that they don’t compete against themselves, there is nothing to click on or pull you away from the words at hand.
What genre of books sell best for you?
Fiction and children’s books, cookbooks, art books, religion and philosophy are probably my best sections. I’m always surprised by how much poetry I sell too.
How has the digital age affected your business?
I think that if people are reading and talking about what they are reading then it doesn’t matter what format they use. So I don’t think that kindles have affected me as much overall as smartphones and social media have.
What have your customers been saying about your window displays?
Oh they love them! I see people taking pictures all the time. I don’t really use Instagram but I went on and plugged in #halfmoonbooks and it was this cascade of images of all the great windows you have done over the years.
Oh… Jessica is interviewing me now… Do you have a favorite?
Chris: “The circle.”
Jessica: Me too! That one was hard.
Chris: “I know. I don’t think I could do it again.”
How have you seen Kingston change over the years?
Lots of new businesses, new energy. I have enjoyed watching the O+ Festival grow because it started the same year that I did.
When you’re not selling the coolest and rarest vintage books, what do you like to do for fun?
I look at art, drive my kids all over creation, knit, the usual stuff.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start their own business?
Get the money right. Think hard about how much money and how much time you will need. And then double those numbers.
Okay Jessica, it’s time for the SPEED ROUND:
Fave Color: Red
Fave Food: Peanut Butter
Fave Book(s): I love science fiction. Ray Bradbury called it the fiction of ideas and I am all about ideas, so that’s what I’m reading these days.
Fave Song: Ack! Music is my weak spot! I listen to a lot of jazz and funk in the store.
Fave Movie: Harold and Maude
Dive into Jessica’s shelves and score some great vintage books this holiday at Half Moon Books, 35 N. Front Street, Kingston, NY 12401
And without further adieu, here’s my latest window installation for Half Moon Books in Kingston, NY… STARRY NIGHT.
I wanted to create something a bit different for this year’s Holiday windows. Something a bit darker and not totally “in your face” Christmas. No red or green, no Christmas Trees and no Santa. So, I came up with Starry Night.
I had to defy gravity with the books like I usually do and I had found great pictures of “floating books.” That’s when I had the idea to create the books as chimney smoke. A cozy, winter scene.
I initially wanted to use a cabin but upon my research I found this great vintage Sears Catalog house illustration. It’s the Randolph style if you’re interested! BINGO… The books serve as chimney smoke puffs for this charming Sears Catalog spec home.
The background is dark blue paper mounted to a pegboard base with twinkle xmas lights poked thru the holes… Instant starlit night sky. And then I used the half moon from the store’s actual logo and VOILA; A Starry Night was born.
I hope you enjoy! Shop small this holiday. Peace and Love for all.
Oh, I almost forgot. I made a table too!
Dave Pillard from Phoenicia’s very own Tender Land Home is a true Catskills visionary - selling amazing home and gift items long before the Brooklyn hipsters descended upon our quaint little community. Dave’s boutique has a gift for every occasion and he pretty much knows everything there is to know about Phoenicia and the Catskills. I’m happy to call him a good friend and my very first marketing client. Okay, let’s meet Dave...
What first brought you to the Catskills?
A friend. The singer Leslie Ritter, is a good friend of my former partner. We used to get away for weekends to see Les and hang out in the Catskills.
What inspired you to open Tender Land Home?
Like so many people who want to live full time in the Catskills I was looking for a job that could support me here. My then partner Bill Forbes had The Tender Land so when a space became available on Main Street in Phoenicia we figured let's open another store!
Tell us what the name means?
The name is based on Bill's favorite opera, The Tender Land by Aaron Copland. It's an appropriate name for the beautiful Catskill Mountains.
What are some of your top sellers?
Top sellers are jewelry, candles, kids merchandise and rugs.
How has the digital age affected your business?
The digital age has made it easier for people to purchase larger items online. I used to sell a lot more furniture. But now people can order sofas, chairs and tables online and have them delivered to their home. I adjusted to this by adding smaller, more unique items that can fit in the environment of a Catskills cabin or a Manhattan apartment.
How have you seen Phoenicia change over the years?
It's like the old saying that is something to the effect "everything is different and everything is the same." Phoenicia is still a really special place where everyone fits in. There's no pretense here - no struggle to live up to some kind of reputation. That is really great. And what's also really new and great is that a younger generation has discovered the beauty and charm of the Catskills and sings it praises.
When you’re not selling the best gifts ever, what do you do for fun?
For fun I like to work out - gym, swim, ride my bike, walk on the reservoir. My partner Robert Hessler and I love to binge watch series on Netflix or HBO - especially in winter (I'm also an admitted Real Housewives of New York and New Jersey junkie). I also love yard work - it's sort of a zen thing for me.
What are some of your fave places to grab a bite in the area?
We are blessed with great places to eat here! The burger and fries at Peekamoose are the bomb! Nobody does it better!! One slice of the chicken alfredo pizza at Brio's is a lunch in itself and I really dig their grilled cheddar cheese sandwich with apple and bacon. YUM! Sweet Sue's pancakes are still the best in the world!!!! Robin's homemade fudge at The Nest Egg is such a sinful treat. And I always love going to see Margaret at the Phoenicia Deli because she's so wonderful and also makes a wonderful sandwich. I could go on and on and on about the food around here!! LOL!!!
Do you have any advice or someone wanting to start their own business in the Phoenicia area?
Make your business plan and then throw it out the window!! The Catskills is such a quirky business environment that no matter what you plan for you're going to be thrown lots of curve balls that you didn't see coming. Doing business around here is like going for a roller coaster ride - you have to hold on tenaciously through the ups and downs. Put aside more money than you think you're going to need to get started (because guaranteed you'll need it) and in a few years you'll see the fruits of your labor.
Okay Dave… Time for the SPEED ROUND:
Fave Color: Blue
Fave Food: French Fries
Fave Book: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Fave Song: “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
Fave Movie: A tie between The Wizard of Oz and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (but there's also Blade Runner and most of Stanley Kubrick's movies too.... Oh well)
Visit Dave at Tender Land Home, 64 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464
Another new window installation completed at the wonderful Half Moon Books in Kingston.
I initially pitched an entirely different scheme that Jessica, the owner, didn't seem to keen on. She kept mentioning flowers... So, I knew I had to get her some summer blooms for our 3rd summer window together. Viola, "summer reads" was born.
I used books as petals strung to pegboard. I had found this cool technique of crocheting yarn on pegboard, so I used it for the middle of the bloom as well at the stem. It looks so simple, but the work was painstaking.
Have a great summer and make sure you pop into Half Moon Books to get all your summer vacation reads. xo, Chris
A trip down memory lane showcasing some of my best Valentine's Day display motifs from the Fred Flare store in Brooklyn. Gosh, I miss Fred so much! Happy Valentine's Day everyone and enjoy! Love ya...
Just finished re-merchandising one of my fave clients store for Holiday... Petalos Florist in Uptown Kingston, NY.
The store is really tight and the client needed a slightly better layout for their work area behind the register. I centered the work table on their storage armoire and electrified the chandelier. I cleaned up the wrapping station to the left and added some display shelves above. I also got in the Christmas spirit and added pops of light all over... But not too much!
I'll add pics of the store window in a bit!