When it comes to home décor, High Falls has a proud history as a shopping mecca that few hamlets with populations under 1,000 can match. With the addition of FRED Interior Design and Decoration in February 2015, this has become truer than ever.
FRED is not an acronym; it’s quite simply the name that business partners Charles Farruggio and Michael Van Nort liked for their shop, a name that they felt suggested friendly and accessible.
“Finding the location was easy, since our space was previously bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy, then Spruce Design + Decor,” says Michael. “Selecting the name was our biggest challenge! We wanted it to be approachable, friendly, and down to earth.”
And FRED is exactly that—an experience anyone can enjoy, and genuinely classy in a way that inspires other professional designers. “FRED is one of those unique shops that is instantly entrancing. Entering FRED is like walking into a well-designed kaleidoscope,” wrote interior designer Haynes Llewellyn on Upstater.com in an article titled “You’ve Got to Meet FRED.” “Frankly, as a designer, when I find a shop with personal appeal that also meets the needs of my clients, I consider it a great find. FRED is just exactly that type of space: a design-oriented business with a varied inventory whose price points cover a broad range.”
“We want FRED to be a destination for affordable and stylish home furnishings and gift giving.”
Michael, a native of Syracuse, and Charles, born and raised in Astoria, Queens, were both working in design in Manhattan when the magnetic vortex of High Falls—ably represented by bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy owner Sean Nutley, who’d invited his city pals up for a weekend—summoned them to play a lead role in the community’s retail design cosmos. It began with what might have seemed like an offhand remark.
“On my first weekend visit to High Falls twelve years ago, I turned to my husband, Bill, and said, ‘One day, I want to have a shop right here!’ pointing to the location FRED is in now, which at the time was bluecashew,” says Charles.
(Nutley’s Kitchen Pharmacy has since relocated to Rhinebeck’s Montgomery Row.) “We instantly fell in love with the area and began our search for a weekend home.” Both partners had topflight interior design firms with downstate and international clientele.
While training for the New York City Marathon in 2014, they began tossing the idea of an upstate shop back and forth. “By mile 26, we had defined the direction for the shop — ‘Modern, Vintage, New, and Charming Furnishings’ [now the store’s slogan],” says Charles.
FRED is, by design in every sense of the word, an experience anyone can enjoy, and deeply, genuinely classy in a way that inspires other professional designers.
“From there, it all happened quite organically. It was the coming together of years of experience in various fields from the both of us and following what we find exciting and fulfilling.”
Both Michael and Charles find plenty of excitement and fulfillment in the High Falls shop, in flavors they’d have been unlikely to taste had they opened an NYC retail location. They’re attuned to drawing in all and sundry, to enjoying life, and to community engagement. “Hosting special events like art shows and book signings has been a great way to introduce new customers to FRED. And we partnered with Hasbrouck House and hosted a Connect 4 tournament,” says Michael.
“We’re participating in community events, like hosting the High Falls Civic Association’s Crazy Hat Bingo last year.”
(City design shops can and do host art shows and signings, but crazy hat bingo? Seems unlikely.)
It’s all about maximizing joy, and helping others make life beautiful flows organically from that. “We both love that each day is different—between the shop and our interior design projects, no day is exactly the same,” says Michael. “We are also constantly meeting new people through the shop, which is also very fun.” Charles especially loves the freedom that comes with being an indie entrepreneur.
“I can choose to work at four in the morning or take a nap at two in the afternoon... with the freedom of not having to work a set schedule, even though it may mean working more than a 40- or 50-hour week. The hard line between ‘going to ‘work’ and ‘personal time’ is blurred.” That’s how it goes when you love what you do, and making FRED happen is a mutual labor of love.
Whether you need a unique little (or big) gift, a few fresh ideas in your space, or a complete interior design makeover, FRED is your friend.
“Let passion and inspiration be a driving force in everything and have it expressed to every person that walks into FRED,” is how the two express their shared business philosophy. “It’s fulfilling knowing that we can offer a positive experience for people—whether it is providing the perfect find for someone’s shopping search, imparting an inspiring experience for the ‘just browsing’ shopper, or really transforming someone’s life by redesigning their home with beautiful and stylish interiors.”
To that end, “we continually spend a lot of time looking for the right balance of merchandise that will appeal to a broad range of customers, both in style and in price point. Our range of inventory has expanded and been refined to reflect our brand,” says Charles.
“We want FRED to be a destination for affordable and stylish home furnishings and gift giving. We are sensitive to our customers’ tastes and specifics they’re looking for, so we can add those items to our search when sourcing new inventory.”
“We are very small and deliberately do not overpromise and underdeliver, which is why we do not have an e-commerce website yet,” adds Michael. “As much as we would love to sell online, we do not have the resources to provide quick packing and shipping. We believe in slow and steady, and quality over quantity.”
That philosophy is part of what makes FRED such a perfect addition to the High Falls design and home goods landscape, and they love the role. “As part of a small town business community, wehave learned how important and valuable it is to be supportive of each other,” says Michael. “The more successful the community is, the more successful each of us will be as individual businesses.” What’s in store for the future? More fun, as FRED continues to evolve. More art shows, more special events, and an unending procession of best-in-class pieces for your space and your gift-giving occasions.
“As part of a small town business community, we have learned how important and valuable it is to be supportive of each other.”
“We are actually running the marathon again this year,” Michael half-jokes. “So who knows, maybe we’ll decide to open another FRED location!” Whether you need a unique little (or big) gift, a few fresh ideas in your space, or a complete interior design makeover, FRED is your friend. Charles and Michael would love nothing more than to conspire with you to create new comfort and beauty.
1209 Route 213, High Falls
@fredhighfalls on Instagram