Rural We: Kelley Drahushuk
Kelley Drahushuk is the manager and owner (along with husband Alan Coon) of Hudson, New York’s Spotty Dog Books and Ale. For the past decade the bookstore/pub/art supply store, housed in a historic firehouse named for a family ancestor, has become a hub for locals and tourists alike. It’s also a vital performance space for musicians and literary events like the excellent Volume Reading Series. Drahushuk is, in some ways, like her business. She’s versatile, connected to the community and its history, a supporter of its literacy (she’s involved with both the Hudson Area Library and the Hudson Children’s Book Festival), smart, funny and an appreciator of a quality craft beer.
I have an extremely old Hudson pedigree. My great-great-great-grandfather, Cornelius H. Evans, was a mayor of Hudson. He built the building we are in, which used to be the C.H. Evans Hook and Ladder #3, and brought the brewery started by his father into modernity. A lot of my family still lives around here and my uncle Neil Evans is still brewing the beer, so it’s kind of come full circle.
We’re in our 11th year here at the Spotty Dog. People think we went into this with some sort of plan, which is nice. We had an art supply store down the road and my Uncle Neil bought the building with the intent of making a branch of the Albany Pump Station, but running one was enough work so he approached us. My husband, in his wisdom, said “Oh, we would want to open a bookstore.” I thought that was not the greatest of ideas, but he won out and my uncle said “Well, how about a bookstore with beer?” and that’s what we ended up doing. It was a pretty good idea in hindsight.
There seems to still be something about a bookstore, where you can walk in, browse and find things serendipitously. That said, when you walk into any bookstore now you see a mix of things. Here you see a bar, coffee, calendars, greeting cards, stuffed animals, games and whatever else because those are the things that help you make the money so you can have the books.
As far as being a performance venue, I wish I could take credit for being some sort of genius but generally what I do is if someone comes and asks if they can do something here, I just say yes. We have two or three shows a month, and then with Volume, they came to us and said they wanted to do a reading series. They do such an amazing job of it and bring such talent. It’s really become quite the event to be seen at every month.
The other thing that’s really important to us is that we sell the books at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival every year. That’s such a labor of love and they do such an amazing job. We’re trying to get the kids now while they’re still young! Readers are readers. They’ll get books at the library, they’ll get books here, or they’ll buy books online. As long as people are reading, we’re happy.