As the holiday season approaches, you might find yourself trampled in an attempt to grab the perfect gift from big-box stores on Black Friday, or scrambling to think of something unique to give your loved ones after years of repeated Christmases. Sound like a train wreck waiting to happen? There’s an alternative.
In the heart of Ellenville, NY, there’s a store unlike any other: the French Corner. Opened in June of 2016 by Gerry Gress and his partner, Pascalene, the French Corner sells unique gifts shipped from France, one-of-a-kind antiques, and items crafted by local artists.
“The goal, essentially, was a gift store,” Gress said, not a commercial store with huge amounts of traffic every day, but very select, diverse items. The intended majority of these items are carefully identified products from Provence, South France; such as soaps, scented candles, tablecloths, dish towels and herbs.
“In addition to the French items we offer, we also elected to augment that with items from local artists and craftspeople,” Gress said. These artists include local potters, a gentleman who knits hats, a woman well known for her painting and several people who create special jewelry. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to display their creations.”
Along with these, Gress brought his personal enjoyment of bidding to the table. The French Corner offers a few very select antiques, which can be anything from specialized glassware to a set of books from the 1900s. In addition, they have a few handbags from Italy and domestic designs from California, “that just seem to blend well with the product lines we have.”
Ultimately, everything brought in from local artists and antique auctions must mix well with the overall feel and theme of the store. “A lot of the products we have are very eye-catching and colorful, and I think that is what has differentiated us.”
“Whatever’s in our store, you will not find in any of the big-box stores,” Gress said, and “The price range is affordable for every budget.”
For the wintertime, Pascalene and Gress are exploring the idea of bringing in a local artist or two to craft their fare on site and let people participate in some capacity, and they anticipate the introduction of a brand new line of fashion handbags just in time for the holidays.