Shopping in Cooperstown, believe it or not, can be a challenge, unless, of course, you’re looking for a baseball souvenir of some sort. I really don’t recall the last time I was in the market for a baseball souvenir. It was probably 9 or 10 years ago when I wanted to get a gift for a swim coach that I knew was a NY Mets fan. Does that count if it’s for a swim coach, not a baseball person?
Anyway, Cooperstown does have some cute little shops to browse. This one, Stone House Gifts, is one of my favorites. It’s a half block off Main Street on Pioneer Street — just up from the flag pole. The owner, Linda Pokorny, has an eclectic collection of what-nots. She has the obligatory baseball stuff in the form of Christmas ornaments shaped like baseballs that say “Cooperstown, NY” on them. She has soaps and jewelry and mugs and candles and flags and windsocks and dish towels and stuff. I love browsing through stuff. She usually has a sale basket or sale table or porch sale. This is one of those stores with stuff on shelves, stuff on tables, stuff under tables, stuff on window ledges, stuff in drawers and stuff behind doors; she has a lot of stuff, and it can be in unexpected places so that when you find just what you were looking for (even though you didn’t know you were looking for it) you feel like you’ve found a treasure. Even when I’m not looking for anything in particular, I still stop in to say hi and see what’s new in her store.
I mentioned in a previous post Willis Monie Books, the used bookstore in town. My idea of fun is to go into Willis Monie‘s and browse the books. If I was given an hour to spend any way I like, this would be on the list of possible destinations. There’s just something about a used bookstore. I love the sight of all those books stacked and/or shelved from floor to ceiling. I love the smell of the books, slightly musty, papery, warm. I love pulling books off the shelves because the title is so worn on the back that you have no idea what it is and peeking inside to find someone’s name scrawled on the flyleaf and passages marked with stars and underlines. Willis Monie has a clutter of books — I just made that term up. It’s akin to a gaggle of geese or a parliament of owls. He has a ton of books, loosely categorized by topic. I always leave with something. My last visit yielded another prayer book and 1968 manual for Cooperstown Central School. Willis Monie‘s is located between the driveway for Doubleday Field and the stop light on Main Street. You have to go down a little hallway/alley-ish sort of the thing that he shares with Muskrat Hill, another nice gift store in town. Look for the Life Is Good shirts on display and take a left.
If you continue up Main Street, past the stop light, there’s a relatively new shop in town called Savor New York. I absolutely love the concept for this store. Everything they sell is from New York. They carry food products, including the best fudge sauce ever — Sundaes Best made in Saratoga. We used to look for Katie, the woman who makes this fudge sauce, at local craft shows to stock up on her sauce. Now I can buy it all year in Cooperstown! Savor New York also carries books, soaps, candles, spice mixes and an assortment of other things. As I said, I love the concept of a store that supports our local economy. This is not unlike Cooper Country Crafts, a store located in a mini-plaza off Doubleday Parking lot, that is a cooperative of local arts and crafts people. Savor New York‘s product line is a little more extensive and polished.
If you insist on buying baseball stuff, take your pick. The rest of Main Street is a battery of baseball shops. Yes, I feel assaulted by baseball shops at times. I couldn’t recommend over another. You’re just as likely to find a souvenir baseball bat in one shop as another. If you’re on a quest for a baseball card, however, check out Baseball Nostalgia, which shares the building with the laundromat in Doubleday parking lot. The proprietor, Bruce Andrews, is a local (not a transplant) who is also a folk music aficionado. I don’t know if he has a Honus Wagner card, but this is the only place I have ever seen the rare Whitey Wilshire card.
Tomorrow – a little peace and quiet in a busy tourist town.