A visit to the northern Ulster County town of Phoenicia is a journey back in time. The streets of this mountain hideaway are lined with old buildings. Many locals could be mistaken in phlegmatic manner and rural dress for people hailing from many decades earlier. The spell of time-traveling is completed when visitors step inside The Nest Egg. This establishment replicates the look and spirit of the old country stores of the 19th century, when merchants carried a little bit of everything to accommodate the farmers, lumberers and families who lived in the area.
Robin Kirk, the current owner of The Nest Egg, took over from her father, who purchased the building in 1968 and ran it as a grocery store until 1974. When he relocated the grocery store on the opposite side of Main Street, another grocer took over the vacant building. When Kirk graduated from college in 1987, she took over the building across from her father and selected inventory that radiated a combination of tradition and whimsy. The Nest Egg Country Store was born.
Whether you are looking for practical everyday items or souvenirs to commemorate your trip to the Valley, The Nest Egg Country Store can fit the bill. Candles and pine incense crowd the shelves next to books about the region and a variety of old-fashioned candy that was first sold in similar stores more than a century ago. If you want old-style Minnetonka Moccasins, saucy T-shirts or Phoenicia sweatshirts, the line forms on the right.
The wide array of items can make patrons either giddy or disoriented, but Kirk stands by the expansive inventory.
“We want the store to be different by having something for everyone: locals, kids, grandparents, women, men and tourists,” she said. “And I think we have a pretty good mix of merchandise.”
All this and free gift-wrapping. Because not only does The Nest Egg honor the old days of mom-and-pop stores, but it observes a level of customer service that is quickly fading from most establishments.
The success of The Nest Egg and its eclectic mix was a culmination of Kirk’s work history. Her family history stretches back generations in the area and owned seven different businesses at one point. They included: A grocery store in Phoenicia; three video stores in Phoenicia, West Hurley and Shokan; The Ice Cream Station in Phoenicia; a gift store in Lake George; and the ever-thriving Nest Egg. Kirk put in time in most of those establishments, honing her retail sense and polishing her understanding of customer relations.
“It was a logical progression from working at all of the businesses to narrowing it down over time,” she said. “We now only own The Nest Egg and The Ice Cream Station and can put our concentration on them.”
Both locals and tourists find The Nest Egg an irresistible destination for the commonplace and unique purchases, strolling the rough-hewn wooden interior to see what quirky items have been added to the product mix.
“We have little breakthrough moments all the time when our customers tell us they love the store and that we have the best stuff,” Kirk said. “People tell us that whenever they come to the area, they have to stop in and see what's new.”
To ensure that the shelves look fresh, Kirk constantly searches for new merchandise. The addition last year of a line of store-made fudge, crafted at The Ice Cream Station, was a huge success. The apparel area has also been expanded. Robin Kirk attends gift shows around the country to find offbeat items that keep the curious coming through the door. Next year, she plans to introduce a line of hiking boots and socks.
“My business philosophy is to figure out what customers will want and need and deliver it with a great attitude and mountain hospitality.”
The Nest Egg
84 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY
845-688-5851 | thenesteggcountrystore.com