The Kitchenware of Columbia County
Mark Heidorn, owner of Hudson’s go-to kitchenware store Marx Home, and Lynne Michael, owner of Chatham’s American Pie, share a secret: Owning a cook’s store leaves very little time for actual cooking. “I don’t cook anymore,” says Heidorn who diligently stocks the shelves of his 9-year-old store with countless supplies for others’ disposal. “I don’t have the time. The store keeps me so busy. I do this 24/7.” Michael shares Heirdorn’s dilemma. “I used to cook a lot more,” she says, speaking of a time before American Pie, her 16-year old shop which occupies her seven days a week. Heidorn lives vicariously through his customers, spending most of his free time figuring out their cooking needs. “I try to stock the store in a way that keeps everyone happy. I have become known for odd gadgets and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”
At one point almost a decade ago, Marx Home and American Pie shared the same block in Chatham, until Heidorn decided to close his then-mostly-home-furnishings-focused storefront, and re-open in Hudson as a super-chic minimalist kitchen store. “I loosely modeled it after this shop in Soho that was super sparse.” His kitchen store has morphed into the area’s go-to spot for hard-to-find and eccentric kitchen needs.
A few miles away back in Chatham at American Pie, some of the items put the “kitsch” in kitchen, with floral-designed cow shaped creamers ($17.95) and the vintage-inspired oil-cloth fabric (by the yard ($14.95), Michael says, “It’s great for the table, for picnics and some people use it to make outdoor cushions.” Heidorn and Michael have both noticed a new shift in purchasing this holiday season. “There seems to be a return of traditional, old-fashioned items like the Bromwell wood-handled hand mixer” ($12), Heidorn says. “I have lots of updated versions of heritage gadgets, but people seem to really want to use the retro hand mixer these days.” It’s a change Michael has noticed, too, but one she was inadvertently prepared for. “We have a few different mortar and pestle sets and I don’t even know how many whisks.” Half of American Pie’s retail space is dedicated to kitchen and tabletop items, including more than 100 cookie cutter shapes (.80 - $11), “It’s the season where everyone wants to bake and be home more.”
A perennial favorite flying off the shelves this holiday season is the legendary Le Creuset brand, a bestseller for both stores. Heidron and Michael are in agreement about the 5 ½ quart dutch oven ($265), a signature item from the near 100-year-old French cookware company, Michael, who has one in flame in her personal arsenal, figures that “It’s the perfect size for a Christmas goose and it makes an impressive gift.” While Heidorn feels the enameled cast-iron pot is a statement item. “People covet and collect it. They’ll have whole sets in one color or some have one and it’s become the centerpiece of their kitchen.”
Of the traits these two shops have in common, their love of American-made items. “Items like these were getting harder and harder to find, like this crock, people love it for canning, but this company nearly closed,” Michael says referring to the revival of Ohio Pottery Norwich’s various size crocks ($16.95-59.95). “The larger sizes are perfect for making sauerkraut.” In addition to stocking a large supply of American-made products at Marx Home, it’s all about local goods like the hand-kitted cowls and scarves ($22 & up) made by his husband, Jeffrey Sullivan and Claverack’s Gail Garcia’s unique collection of items branded as “handmade, functional art for the table.” Marx Home is the only one in the area to carry her crafts: porcelain napkin rings ($49), hand-painted salt and pepper sets ($68), and her most popular product the renewable, eco-friendly dot-designed cork coasters ($24) and trivets ($15). Growing in popularity is her new alphabet and town name series of mugs and trays with initials and town names ($20).
Just down the road, at the six-month-old Germantown Variety, owner, Otto Leuschel sees the shift to traditional cooking items, too, “People really want local Made in the USA products. They’re coming into the Variety store and buying up Catskill Craftsmen cutting boards ($49.95 & up), Chemex Glass Coffee Makers ($24.95-36.95) and retro tumblers made from old glass Coke and Crush bottles” ($4 for $19.95).
Food blogger Kara Thurmond has also noticed this trend. “I use modern tools, but try to make everyday items only using ingredients that were available in the 19th century. But I must say, a well-seasoned cast-iron pan is the original nonstick,” she says, “Some days it’s just easier to pull a whisk out of a drawer than it is to find the electric mixer, all its parts, and plug it in.”
The kitchen is traditionally the hub of the home, and since most holiday gatherings have old-standby recipes, it comforting to reach for the same version of grandmother’s cooking tool. After years of being encouraged to go overboard, to fill our drawers and cabinets with single-use gadgets and electronics, it almost makes sense to return to the traditional tools. There are many different ways to cook an egg, it turns out, and a surprising amount of contraptions to do it in, but sometimes a well-seasoned skillet is all we need, an item Marx Home, American Pie, and Germantown Variety all have in common. — Dale Stewart
344 Warren Street
Hudson, New York
Monday - Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m
41 Main St # 1
Monday - Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m
212 Main Street
Sunday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.