“For the person who has everything, we have everything else”
…Jackson and Callie
A set of hand carved loon salt and pepper shakers; handmade pottery and ceramic mugs, plates, jars, and saucers in vibrant glazes that are microwave and dishwasher safe; Christmas Cat hand towels; warm and alluring scarves woven from luxurious alpaca fibers; aromatic and comforting soaps, candles, and lotions; gorgeous jewelry found nowhere else; whimsical greeting cards illustrated by local artisans; distinctive glassware; an extensive array of delicious specialty teas, pastas, sauces, condiments, and other compelling concoctions (including Lake Champlain chocolates and Stonewall Kitchen items) with a tempting selection of vegan and gluten-free choices… and that is just the beginning.
“Made in America, not on Amazon and not found anywhere else” is how Kristen Hardman, owner and curator of the jewel of a gift shop, Jackson and Callie, describes her merchandise. Hardman has spent the last four years welcoming customers, helping folks choose gifts for those they love, and celebrating each special occasion and life milestone along with them. “The best source of ideas for merchandise is my customers,” she said. “They tell me what they want and I do my best to find it. To offer people a place to take a break from the world, to browse in a welcoming, comforting atmosphere, is a great privilege. I have people walk over on their lunch break from the hospital, others who need a breath of fresh air, and more who just want to see things they’ve never seen.”
Offering an incredible range of gifts for every budget and for every occasion, Hardman finds that word of mouth is her best advertising. “People notice my print advertisements once they’ve already been here,” she disclosed. “I have a web site and a Facebook page but those tend to be visited by my loyal followers who in turn share with their friends, family and co-workers.”
CHALLENGES OF THE COVID-19 ERA
A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Hardman is no stranger to the vicissitudes of running a successful business. A native of New Jersey who spent many happy summers in Willsboro, NY, she began her business career on Wall Street and, after honing her skills in banking in the metropolis, accepted the invitation of friends to move to the Adirondacks. (When she arrived in heels and a miniskirt in March, her friends said she looked amazing, then asked if she was cold.)
Over the many happy years since she settled in the North Country this reformed Yuppie’s many projects have included buying old buildings and restoring them, running a bed and breakfast, revitalizing the 1812 Homestead in Willsboro (and appearing each day for work in period costume), and, as the first Executive Director of the Adirondack Sports Commission in Lake Placid (appointed by Senator Ron Stafford), she was instrumental in bringing the Iron Man competition to the region. Also in Lake Placid, Hardman opened and ran the Cornerstone Rustic Gallery—the exclusive showroom for the Post family—for six years. She even recovered from Tropical Storm Irene. However, when COVID-19 forced her to shut down Jackson and Callie for 11 weeks beginning in March 2020, that was an entirely new challenge.
“When the order came to shut down, I contacted everyone I could think of to get permission to offer curbside service,” said Hardman, “but to no avail in those first weeks. Even though I had to furlough my employees, I came to work every day. There’s always something to do. It was — and still is — a very difficult time. The silver lining is that I am the direct recipient of the community coming together.”
Hardman credits Kim Manion, Disaster Consultant with the Small Business Development Center, and Lori Hebert, Lending Manager at Champlain National Bank, as crucial in helping keep her business going. “With the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), I now have hope I can sustain myself,” she said. “In addition, a group of angels — loyal customers one and all — are now pitching in on an entirely volunteer basis to get the shop ready for the holiday season and even work the sales floor when things get busy.” Other customers pre-ordered gifts for the holidays and several local businesses asked Hardman to create custom gift baskets for their employees, paying in advance.”
After closing for a full week for professional deep cleaning, Jackson and Callie has officially reopened. As she welcomes customers, Hardman is taking every precaution to ensure their safety. In addition to requiring masks and social distancing, she offers completely contactless curbside service. And while she must limit the number of customers in the store at one time, there is unlimited access to her unique merchandise online from the store’s web site. With a nod to the stress induced by quarantining and social isolation, Hardman now offers “Adult Survival” gift baskets filled with items chosen to ease these pandemic times. She has also reduced pricing on some items to help ease the financial burden on everyone.
Unlike in the past, Jackson and Callie’s famous “food corner” cannot offer samples of cheeses, dips, meatballs, and other tidbits to be tasted on the premises, nor is the wonderful aroma of various hors d’oeuvres wafting about but this is temporary, and has not reduced the choices of one-of-a-kind gastronomic delights. Spices, scented candles and other fragrances still tantalize, and Hardman has been hard at work decorating for the holidays. The antique coach she restored, took apart (to fit through the door), and lovingly reassembled stands filled with glittering gifts. And although she is running the shop solo for now, she offers extraordinary and complimentary gift wrapping upon request. Shiny wraps, festive bows, and tulle ribbons are there for the asking.
“I grew up with beautiful, fragile things, visiting museums and enjoying all kinds of magical music. It helped me develop my aesthetic sense, and I am delighted to share this with my customers. My “Please Touch” policy will return as soon as I am able. I am looking forward to people doing that again,” Hardman emphasized. “I have the most wonderful customers in the world.”
In the meantime, Jackson and Callie, named for her two beloved cats, is all dressed up and ready for the holidays, your special occasion or for the delight of browsing.
Jackson and Callie
164 Boynton Avenue
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
FB: Jackson and Callie