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