The other day I wandered into a place I’d been meaning to go,
a “variety” store called A.L. Stickle in Rhinebeck.
Here’s how it went.
The first thing I see is this:
Then I notice things are displayed just like they were in Woolworth’s
in DAYS OF YORE.
For you kids out there, Woolworth’s was the place you’d go to buy a parakeet and a pack of underpants, to paraphrase David Letterman.
Wow, I haven’t seen one of these since I won one at the state fair with one of those little mechanical cranes behind glass that you pumped your coins into only to find out that just about anything it tried to pick up was the wrong size or weight to actually make it down the chute and into your hand.
But then I begin to notice that these signs and mechandise ARE the store.
But not in a precious or ironic way. In an appreciative, thoughtful way.
It’s clear that whoever owns the store knows exactly what they have,
and they’re enjoying the heck out of being able to use it in a practical way.
Check it out:
I almost faint when I come upon this.
I instantly think of my friend Chandra at GREER.
Upon closer inspection, I see that it does indeed contain vintage cards.
I’m in the middle of reading a great book about them!
Meet Matt Stickle, grandson of the store’s original owner, Alfred Lee Stickle.
That’s why this fantastic place is called A.L. Stickle, and it’s been a Rhinebeck fixture for over 62 years, with Matt running it for over a dozen.
Alfred Lee Stickle bought a store in 1946 — a Ben Franklin. A nearby grocery store was destroyed by a fire, and he bought that property and had the new store built there. A.L. Stickle opened in 1951.
When Al became ill, his grandson Matt came home to help run the store, and took over after Al passed away. Matt now runs the store with his wife Leah, and other family members. Jan, Al’s wife, still comes in to help out a few days a week.
Matt found all these great pieces in the basement of the store, and as he brought them up, his late grandfather would say, “I haven’t seen that in years!”
He loves what he’s doing, and he’s doing it for the love of the store.
It’s obvious in talking to him, and when shopping, that he cares about what he does, and about his customers.
Oh, and yeah. None of the vintage display pieces are for sale.
I didn’t even have to ask that question once I’d heard Matt’s story.
But I did.
Cause I knew you’d ask.
As I left, the word “notions” popped into my head. This is where you find them.
Nobody even uses that word anymore.
Stuff like thread, elastic, thimbles. Notions!
My dad sold sundries, so I know notions.
I also thought if we’d had a store like this near us when my daughter was little, we’d have been in there almost daily, at her suggestion.
It was refreshing to discover a place that turned out to just be what it is — not retro, not hip, not designed to be anything other than an authentic, working five and dime.
I love New York. Upstate.
Check out Matt’s wife Leah’s cute-as-a-bug Etsy store, Go Monkey Designs.
The tote bags and French lounging pants are fantastic!