Adirondack Trail Mix


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    Trees Gifts and Books

    "What moved us to become shopkeepers? We knew that one way [David] could keep satisfying his collecting impulses would be to have an outlet (a store), so he wouldn't have to keep bringing everything back to an overcrowded home."

    Doug Deneen and David Kreckman bought their first piece of Adirondack property after their first visit to the mountains in 1999. It was a piece of vacant land on the west bank of the Schroon River, where they camped on weekends until the house across the road became available. They bought it, but kept their apartment in New York City for several more years.

    In 2005, for one season they operated a shop named River Zen in Bolton Landing, NY, selling things that they particularly loved and collected—antiques, collectibles and Doug's photography. It was not highly successful, but it was a learning experience, says Doug. They learned the importance of knowing what kinds of merchandise sells well in the region. They came to realized that the shop would rely primarily on foot traffic, and River Zen was not located in an area of town heavily frequented by pedestrians. "And," says Doug, "We learned to adapt. As we got to know the area better, we learned to appreciate and pay attention to local talent and interests, local history, local pride and discovered where our interests intersect with the shoppers in this town. We'd be ready, if we tried again." 

    And try again they did. By 2007 they had sold their city apartment and were Adirondack residents. David kept his job, while Doug worked winters only. Trees, a well-established shop, was for sale. It was located beside the Bolton town park and the chamber of commerce on a busy stretch of Lake Shore Drive, and the previous owners had really learned the market, giving Doug and David a sturdy foundation on which to build.

    "We beefed up the local book offerings, and made an effort to bring in even more local talent," Doug says of their book department at Trees

    These days the book selection is focused tightly on the Adirondacks and Lake George, because those are the kinds of books people would be less apt to think of while at home shopping online, but might well pick up as a souvenir of their trip to the mountains or as a gift. The Adirondack theme spreads across genres of fiction, history, cooking, sports children's and young adult books, all written about the Adirondacks or by Adirondack authors. "Even the classics are set here," Doug says, "like ‘Last of the Mohicans'." Local sports books (such as ones on canoeing, fishing, and hiking) are very popular, and, not surprisingly with the number of historical sites in the region, so are works about local history.  

    The antiques and collectibles blend into the shop and add another layer of interest." It also provides an outlet for David's collection of vintage jewelry.

    David's knowledge of vintage jewelry and skill at locating pieces ensure that
    Trees always has a unique selection of fine pieces.

    The North Country is home to many skilled jewelers, making contemporary pieces from materials including regionally-mined garnet and serpentine to hand-forged Sterling silver, and even hand-wound paper beads.

    Photographs claim a large portion of one wall of the shop – photographs that focus on local scenes, particularly mountainscapes and lakes.  Some are framed conventionally, while others boast rustic frames. There there is also a substantial selection of prints.

    The shop is run by a staff of one or two dedicated employees who know how to multitask and keep their heads when the shop is full of guests all requesting different things at the same time. It has been a rewarding experience for  Doug and David.  "We know most of the people who make what we sell. That's really satisfying. Also we love when the store is packed with happy shoppers. Our customers really seem appreciative of what we're trying to do. Our customers make working with the public a real pleasure. Most come back year after year and it's great to see their familiar faces." Most rewarding of all is something that happens often – overhearing a customer say, "This is my favorite store," or "We love this store."

    So what does this daring duo look forward to after having achieved such success? More. Says Doug, "We look forward to the day we give up our other grown-up jobs to focus all our attention on the store. There's so much more we want to do with the store; we're anxious to make that happen."  


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    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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