We love a good store and we love a great person. When the two collide, it pretty much thrills us to bits and we must share the good news. Consider this sharing. We met Larry on Twitter through mutual friends. He is funny and personal when he tweets and his store, High Falls Mercantile in High Falls, NY, seems to be quite the place too!
Then we had the opportunity to meet Larry at the Architectural Digest Home Show. What a funny, personal, lovely person he was and his booth was soothing and chic via that rustic/vintage charm you find in a cozy loft you never want to leave. We thought it would be great to investigate what it takes to be a home furnishings store owner and delve into the ins and outs of curating a creative collection on a daily basis.
The High Falls Mercantile logo (designed by none other than Woody Pirtle) and images from the site that reflect the company's aesthetic: farmhouse crossed with industrial design with the perfect patina.
Tell us a bit about yourself/ design background.
I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1994 with a degree in Display and Exhibit Design.
When did you start High Falls Mercantile?
We opened the doors at High Falls Mercantile in the Spring of 2004 but it was fueled by a childhood dream to have my own shop.
What do you specialize in at High Falls?
We carry anything you could possibly need to furnish your home. Wallpaper, fabrics, linens, bedding, furniture, upholstered pieces, candles, tabletop, accessories, you name it.
What is your design aesthetic?
Someone recently said to me... "Your work is the perfect marriage between farmhouse and industrial design". I thought that nailed it but would have to insist on adding great patina to any description of our aesthetic.
The HFM booth at the 2012 Architectural Digest Home Design Show.
Talk about the start-up process of owning a shop like High Falls.
In the case of High Falls Mercantile my partner and I bought the building that the store is in. There was a huge renovation that was necessary and I ended up having to be the general contractor. I was a tough boss but thrilled with the end result.The logo and store identity was another big part of the start up. Not many people know this but Woody Pirtle who was with Pentagram at the time designed our logo. He is an unbelievable talent and an icon. We got REALLY lucky.
What has been your biggest challenge in owning High Falls?
I would say getting through the recession of 2009 was a big challenge. We had to force ourselves to think differently to be prepared for a long haul of uncertainty.
How do you select/curate items for the store?
We have a strict policy to only buy those things for the store that we would have or use in our own home. We opened with that philosophy and still maintain it to this day.
HFM in the March 2012 issue of Country Living.
What project that you have worked on is the most memorable?
I think that would have to be the first house I ever owned. It was an 1890's Farmhouse and I was so excited to decorate that I did all sorts of naive things. In the end that house was published in Period House and remains one of my favorite places I've ever lived.
What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone looking to start up a home furnishings shop?
Be realistic about your start-up budget and then have at least half of that amount put aside for unforeseen circumstances and review all of your numbers with an accountant or adviser that you trust.
Talk to us about market. What is your favorite and why? How do you approach going to it?
My absolute favorite would have to be Maison d'Objet although I do not attend it every year. I also love High Point because you can see just about everything and most of our vendors are there. It's an overwhelming show to do but I go armed with lists, notes for each vendor, and a checklist of those I MUST see. I always allow extra time to just wander to see things with fresh eyes.
What is your dream client/project?
I honestly think that I am destined to do a small hotel project or design an Inn. That would be at the top of my list.
List 3 blogs you frequent and are inspired by?
What’s your favorite product in the home furnishings industry?
I am a textile lover at heart and still get excited by beautiful linen, mohair velvets, and innovative fabrics.
Thank you so much Larry for talking to us about High Falls and your personal creative process. We LOVE what we see and can't wait to see more!
All images courtesy of High Falls Mercantile.