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Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Recession? Not Hudson

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Last week our restoration blogger Carey Maloney reported on a Manhattan antiques shop, Naga, that recently opened a bigger branch, Naga North, in Hudson.  This week, we are reporting on four new shops that have opened during the past month within just one block on Warren Street.  A coincidence?  Or a recovery?

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Why now?  “Why not?,” replied Benjamin Wilson whose eponymous shop at 441 Warren Street is one of the new fab four. “The auctions have been doing well—Stair locally, but also Sotheby’s and Christies in New York—somebody’s buying.  Also, there’s so much pessimism now; if you want to oppose it, you have to be a little adventurous.” 

Kathy Pakay, of Relics Antiques, who shares Wilson’s new space, is another veteran Hudson dealer.  Her strategy: hedge your bets.  “I only buy things I like,” she says, “so if I get stuck with them, I can put them in my own home.”  Pakay and Wilson have a similar sensibility— while each has his own window display, inside the shop, their stock mixes and mingles (right) to best affect.  Eclectic seems to be the only possible description, though both mildly object to the word itself.  Their version of eclectic emphasizes the witty and the unusual.

Another coincidence?  All four of the new shops in Hudson are reprises for their owners—in fact, this is Ben Wilson’s 6th in Hudson and Kathy Pakay’s 4th.  Jonathan Hallam was a dealer in New York for 12 years, in partnership with Barry Friedman, who still has a shop in Chelsea.  Hallam, who is renowned for his disciplined eye (“I love to do things the right way,” he says) had an earlier shop in Hudson that specialized in the sort of furnishing he deemed suitable for 19th-century neo-classical houses.  Now, after a 6-year hiatus, during which he concentrated on selling historic homes, a trade he still plies, he has reopened Hallam at 426 Warren with a range of objects that should only reinforce his reputation for rarefied taste.  This time around, however,  his choices are more far-ranging—a limited edition Suprematist pottery tea service from a design by Malevich, the avant-garde Russian artist, a 1934 Russian Constructivist lottery poster,  a Grand Tour map of Rome,  half-a-dozen rare late-Regency solid rosewood chairs, even a Fortuney Delphos gown from the 1930s, immaculate, with its original box and a coordinating stenciled velvet jacket and belt.  Why now? “It was time to bite the bullet,” he says.

Finally, Dan Turk, whose Count Turkoffsky’s Department Store (his family-crest-style logo, at top, was designed by Sam Pratt), lies just around the corner at 6 S. 4th Street, used to own the popular Knotty Woodpecker, where he sold long johns and western gear to Hudson sophisticates with great, albeit improbable, success.  “I always have a shop in my back pocket,” says Turk, who closed the Knotty Woodpecker last May.  “I took a year off, and now I’m ready to take the plunge again.”  This time, Turk (whose family name really is Turkoffsky), leased the 400-square-foot retail space formerly occupied by America Retold, to serve as a the flagship for a future web enterprise.  “Every table is a different department,” he says in defense of the steroidal pretentions of his tiny shop’s name.  “Here is the Fine Arts Department,” he says, indicating a pair of portraits on one wall.  “And this is the apothecary,”  he adds, gesturing toward a display of soaps and creams (above).  Then nodding in the direction of some shelves lined with hipster hats,  he concludes, “and there is the haberdashery.” 

No one, certainly no one as experienced as each of these seasoned retailing pros, ever opened a shop expecting to get rich.  Shop owners are like the legendary scorpion: they can’t always justify their behavior.  They open shops because it’s in their nature.
Benjamin Wilson Antiques
441 Warren Street, Hudson; 518.766.2753
Relics Antiques
441 Warren Street, Hudson; 518.229.6452
Hallam Antiques
426 Warren Street, Hudson; 518.822.0756
Count Turkoffsky’s Department Store
6 South 4th Street, Hudson; 518.697.5036

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 05/19/09 at 02:02 AM • Permalink