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Shopping: Tivoli Mercantile Puts the Red Back in Red Hook

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Jill Cornillon, owner of Tivoli Mercantile

As bright and cheerful as the bouquet of zinnias that greets customers as they walk through the door, Tivoli Mercantile, the new shop in Red Hook owned by Jill Cornillon, has something for everyone; at least, everyone who is likely to be walking down East Market Street in Red Hook on any given day.  “We have a lot of stuff for the home, and for moms,” says Jill, herself the mother of four, ranging in age from just-off-to-college to 3 1/2.  “We do really well with our clothes and jewelry.  But I also have a jar of pins and buttons for $1.50. The middle school kids come in for those.”  Pins and buttons?  Asked how she’s doing, Jill replies, “Shockingly well.  Much better than I expected.” 

Rural Intelligence Style“Ya gotta know the territory,” caution a chorus of salesmen in a song from, “The Music Man.”  Sound advice.  Jill cut her teeth in retailing by renting a small space in a
pottery store in nearby Tivoli.  There, under the banner of Tivoli Mercantile, she specialized in flea market finds.  She gave up that business when she discovered that she was pregnant with #4. Then, four weeks after their daughter Stella was born, Arno Cornillon, her husband, was diagnosed with leukemia.  “Stella’s birth was such a blessing.  Concentrating on a newborn gave our whole family something else to think about,” says Jill. ” We just didn’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.”  The Cornillon’s ended up having to sell their riverfront property in Tivoli to cover Arno’s medical expenses.
Rural Intelligence Style  But again, no bitterness.  “Every day, I think how fortunate we were to own a nice house on the river that we could sell to cover the bills.  And we sold it just in time, before the market went down. We actually feel lucky.  Now we are ready for the next adventure.”

These days the family lives in a rental, and Jill often brings their youngest (left) to the store.  A retailing natural, she greets customers with, “Hi, I’m Stella.” 

Jill’s earlier retailing experience has helped her in this venture, of course, but just as valuable is her intuitive feel for the community, of which she is a longstanding member.  She knows, for example, that while young women her age love flea market stuff (and believe it to be their civic duty to recycle everything, including home furnishings), they prefer to mix all that battered softness with bolder, more clean-lined and hard-edged modern design.  The new Tivoli Mercantile captures the look. 

And furthers it.  Even before Jill began planning her return to retail, Arno, who, prior to his illness, had been a much-in-demand specialty-finish painter—trompe l’oiel, faux finishes—with a farflung clientele, was engaged in his own entrepreneurial venture.  Hudson Paint is now the only source of chalkboard paint with a palette that exceeds black and green.  And Arno’s colors exceed exceedingly: orange, red, fuscia, chrome yellow, turquoise—the range is brighter than bright.  And so is the future of his fledgling company, which is already bringing manufacturing jobs to this region.  “It’s been on a lot of blogs—Apartment Therapy, Metropolitan Home, Design Sponge, Cookie Magazine— so we get orders from all over the country,” says Jill.  “We’ve been approached by a couple of wholesalers, but we’re not quite ready for that yet.”  So far, the paint is available only at Tivoli Mercantile and through the Hudson Paint website.

As it happens, the top-selling item at Tivoli Mercantile is an amalgam of both Arno and Jill: brilliantly colored chalkboards (left, shown here with half corkboard, another option) framed in vintage barnwood.  “We shipped five to a designer in California to put in clients’ guest houses,” says Jill.  “People put them in their kitchens, in their kids’ rooms. And lots of local restaurants are using them.”  Meanwhile, Arno is developing other specialty paints to fill gaps he perceives in the market, a territory he knows like the back of his formerly paint-splattered hand.

Tivoli Mercantile
5 E. Market Street, Red Hook; 845.758.3229
Thursday - Saturday & Monday (and sometimes Wednesdays) 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.;  Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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