COOPERSTOWN – The Inn at Cooperstown, Ursula and Chuck Hage, and Brian Barlow and Chris Law took the top three $1,000 prizes in this year’s Clark Foundation Cooperstown Beautification Contest, foundation President Jane Forbes Clark announced Tuesday, Sept. 16.
“Over 60 years ago, my grandmother, Susan Vanderpoel Clark, founded the Cooperstown Beautification Contest to recognize the tremendous time and effort so many of our residents take to make our village look welcoming and beautiful,” said Miss Clark.
This year’s winners are:
►CATEGORY I: Most Attractive Floral Display in a Business Setting.
• First Place, Inn at Cooperstown, Marc and Sherrie Kingsley, 16 Chestnut St. Judge’s comments: “The Inn at Cooperstown demonstrated tactful elegance with an appropriate use of overflowing planters and hanging baskets which provided real charm.”
• Second Place, White House Inn, Ed and Marjorie Landers, 46 Chestnut St.
• Third Place, Tin Bin Alley, Michael and Lori Fink, 114 Main St.
• Honorable mention: Don Olin Realty, Margaret Savoie, 37 Chestnut St.; Scoreboard Classics, Patrick Baynes and Susan LeBlanc, 43 Pioneer St.; Doubleday Café, Tim Searles and Barbara Bolinger, 93 Main St.
►CATEGORY II: Most Effective Overall Planting Which Enhances a Residential Property, As Seen From the Street.
• First Place, the Hages, 73 Pioneer St. Judge’s comments: “Their use of annuals really works in harmony with cottage style landscape display.”
• Second Place, Maureen and Matthew Schermann, 71 Pioneer St.
• Third Place, Carol Taylor, 1 Westridge Road.
• Honorable mention: Penney Gentile, 20 Nelson Ave.; Meg and Martin Tillapaugh, 24 Pioneer St., and Judith and Peter Henrici, 92 Pioneer St.
►CATEGORY III: Most Appropriate Residential or Business Window Box or Boxes and/or Hanging Basket or Baskets
• First Place, Brian Barlow and Chris Law, 103 Pioneer St. Judge’s comments: “When you have three hanging baskets like this you really don’t need anything else!”
• Second Place, Darby and Darlene Connor, 27 Eagle St.
• Third Place, Kate and Bruce Johnson, 15 Pine Boulevard.
• Honorable mention: Ivy and Ed Bischoff, 46 Delaware St.; SEFCU, 169 Main St., Torrence Dutcher, 42 Delaware St.
COOPERSTOWN – Larry Bennett called his career at Brewery Ommegang, which included helping launch Otsego County’s anti-fracking movement, “serendipity.”
“When my wife and I moved up here in 2001 from Raleigh, N.C., I was working at the West Kortright Center to try and meet people,” he said. “I got talking with someone and told them I’d worked in advertising for 25 years, and they mentioned that Brewery Ommegang was looking for someone to do exactly that!”
On Friday, Sept. 15, Bennett retired as Ommegang’s creative director, a position he held for 15 years. “I’ll miss the people, the business and the free beer,” he said.
When he joined, his first goals were to expand the sales force and diversify the beer line. “We wanted to make different, interesting kinds of beers, and also short runs of more esoteric ones,” he said. “We were riding the wave of the craft industry. We weren’t the point of the spear, but we were certainly on the sharp edge.”
There is scarcely a subject that awakens the pride of an American more than the respect which is paid by foreign nations, to the star-spangled banner of this country. We have lived to see the day when foreign princes, potentates and emperors have paid homage to a banner, which but a few years ago was a stranger to the ocean. If such flattering testimonials of respect from
foreign nations do but rouse us to a proper sense, to a just estimation of our own dignity, we may calculate perhaps for centuries to come, on the preservation of our laws, liberties, habits and free republic institutions. Americans are a nation of emperors governed by no other will than their own, when expressed through its constitutional organ. The constitution itself the highest legal authority, which Congress, no less than courts of justice are bound to obey, is but an instrument in the hands of the people and capable of being amended, remodeled, enlarged
or abolished altogether, by our fellow citizens in their collective majesty.
September 20, 1819
175 YEARS AGO
The assemblage of Democrats at Clarkes-Ville (Middlefield) on Saturday, September 16, numbered between three and four thousand. The meeting was numerously attended from the neighboring towns and adjacent counties. Fire Companies number two and three and the Brass Band from Cooperstown, in their uniforms, added greatly to the appearance of the procession and its hilarity on the ground. (Note: The following passage (as edited for brevity) was presented as argument for a resolution: “The Party which originated with Jefferson, and which has been sustained by Madison, Jackson and Van Buren, must become a divided, subdued and sinking people, unless we successfully resist all foreign influence and dictation, and render the overthrow of this British American party final and conclusive. We, who imagined ourselves free from foreign interference; we who fondly hoped to see the Eagle of Liberty, with widespread wings carry the Banner of Freedom to the shores of the Pacific and to the southern extreme of North America, find England and the Holy Alliance in the field against us. The alliance of England and France, formed in 1815, to repress liberty wherever it might be found, has been reorganized and renewed, and its first steps is to limit the territorial possessions of the United States.”
September 23, 1844
150 YEARS AGO
A correspondent complains that there is a place kept open in this village where liquor is sold without a license, and that no steps are taken to put a stop to this violation of a wholesome law; that it is frequently open on Sunday evening; and that drunken men have been seen coming out of it – all of which may be the truth. But what good does he expect to accomplish by simply scolding about it in a public newspaper? Has no enough been said in that way? Now why does he not take pains to bring the facts stated to the Knowledge of the Justice of the Peace, or furnish the Excise Commissioners with the necessary proof to convict the offender? Do your duty, Sir, as a citizen, and do not expect to reform all abuses by mere newspaper talk. It is as much your business as that of any other law-abiding citizen. Let the law be enforced.
September 17, 1869
125 YEARS AGO
Local – Some of the oldest and largest elm trees on our streets are becoming rather dangerous, and a few of them should be taken down. Last Sunday afternoon two men came near being struck by a large limb which fell from one of the old elm trees near the corner of Chestnut and Main streets.
The newspapers might as well stop their criticism on the riding of bicycles by ladies. They are going to do it as they have a right to do, and each year in increasing numbers.
The Nelson Avenue sewer is completed. It is 840 feet long and cost $438. The village owes that Avenue to the enterprise of Mr. E.F. Beadle.
September 20, 1894
100 YEARS AGO
Advertisement for the Nash Automobile – Two years ago when we first contracted to represent the Nash, we made the prediction that within two years’ time the Nash would be the most popular car of its price class on the market. Today, the Nash is the acknowledged leader among cars selling for $2,500 or less. The Nash is the most quiet- running and economical car selling for between $500 and $3,000. Is it therefore any wonder that at no time since the present series Nash came on the market two and one-half years ago, have we or any other Nash dealers been able to supply one-fourth of the demand for Nash cars?
September 17, 1919
75 YEARS AGO
Local football fans will see the 1944 Cooperstown Redskins in action this Saturday at Doubleday Field against a strong Hamilton team. Gone from the team this year are such outstanding players as Captain Bob Meeneghan, Ted Harbison, Arnold Welch, Jack Lavante, LaRue Jones, Arnold Staffin and Everett Bridger. Their loss will be hard felt but there remains a nucleus of players around which this year’s team is built – Vinny Lynch, Charles Hall, Tom Kiley, Bob King, Joe Sapienza, Charles Murdock, Bob Welch, Chet Holbrook and Chuck Coleman. Other players are Joe Mogavero, Dick Johnson, Hugh Jones, Doug Welch, Bill Moakler, Johnny Shevalier, Jerry Clark and Ernie Bosc.
September 20, 1944
25 YEARS AGO
The Otsego County Board of Representatives has taken a step toward installing an emergency 911 system throughout the county. The Board voted 8-5 to sign a letter of intent with NYNEX to order the system equipment. Lyle Jones, Otsego County’s Emergency Services Coordinator, offered a presentation to update the board on the progress of the system. The system should be operational throughout the county within 36 months at a cost of $6,104.54 monthly and an installation fee of $11,457.69. Rep. Hugh Henderson, who lives at a rural route address, opined: “I’m telling you, you can’t imagine the confusion you are going to have in this county by changing addresses, especially those outside of village lines.”
ONEONTA – When David Dart was sentenced for the murder of Gillian Gibbons, her sister Jennifer Kirkpatrick remembered a chilling message he gave her in the courtroom.
“He looked right at me and said, ‘I’ll be back,’” she recounted.
Now, 30 years after Gillian’s death, Jennifer is mounting a campaign to keep her convicted killer in prison. “My goal is to let the community know that he is only in his 40s,” she said. “He will offend again. It’s scary.
Working with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, Jennifer has planned a Justice For Gillian rally at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in Muller Plaza.
“It’s important for us to do something to highlight his parole hearing,” said Seward. “We want to provide information to people so they can contact the parole board to protest Dart’s release.”
In 1991, Dart, then 29, was sentenced to 25 years to live for second-degree murder after he was found guilty of stabbing Gillian to death with a “Rambo-style survival knife” – as described in the court transcript – on the second floor of the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1989.
Dart will once again face the parole board on Monday, Nov. 4.
“Normally his parole is every two years,” said Jennifer. “But this time, it was only 19 months. I was furious, and I told myself, if I have to be a one-woman show, walking up and down Main Street protesting his release, I will.”
“It goes to my heart that Jennifer and her family have to go through this every time,” said Seward. “I’ve got a bill that would expand the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders. Families should not have to tell their devastating stories so frequently, and there’s always the chance the parole board will release him.”
As the anniversary of Gillian’s death drew near, Seward invited Kirkpatrick to his office, where they put together plans for the Justice for Gillian rally.
“I was so humbled,” she said. “He called me down and he said, ‘We can go to the city and get a permit, we can make this happen’.”
“I remember Gillian as a vivacious, smiling young woman,” said Seward. “It hit our community very hard, and it is an affront to her memory to let Dart see the light of day.”
At the rally, Seward will have sample letters and the address people can use to write to the parole board, as well as instructions for how to send a letter online. Letters should be submitted no later than Friday, Oct. 25.
“It’s a waste of taxpayer money to have them go before the parole board every two years,” she said.
There will also be speakers, and Jennifer has invited the police officers involved in Gillian’s case, as well as families affected by violent crime to share their stories.
But more than just an information session, Jennifer wants to continue to celebrate her sister’s life 30 years after her passing.
“I’m bringing photos and having them blown up into posters so people can carry them,” she said. “And I’ve asked all her friends to speak. But I told them that if it’s depressing, Gillian will be rolling her eyes. I want memories and funny stories.”
ALBANY – Driving to the PearlPalooza festival Saturday, Sept. 14, in downtown Albany, members of alt-funk band Hanzolo heard a familiar song come over the radio.
“WEQX was playing ‘Not Easy’,” said guitarist Carl Loewenguth. “I got chills. I turned and high-fived Nick” – Nick Summers, keyboardist and trumpet player. “It was a big moment for us.”
In August, the Cooperstown-based alt-funk band won two Battle of the Bands contests at the Skyloft nightclub at the Crossgates Mall – that won them the prestigious opening spot at PearlPalooza, last weekend’s annual Albany music festival.
“I was intimidated because the other bands were crazy-good,” said Loewenguth.
Crazy-good, sure, but not as good as Hanzolo.
“We won because we were a different kind of band than the others,” he said. “We’re funkier, dancier, and our fans really came out to support us. That really shows the judges.”
Hanzolo’s earliest incarnations came out of Cooperstown High School, where Loewenguth, Summers and James Matson (trombone) formed their first band, Cheese of the Misty Ceremony.
“We put the word ‘cheese’ into a random band name generator,” said Carl. “That was the first time we played a live show.”
Meanwhile, Joey Katz (saxophone) Nate Olmstead (Drums) and Carl’s brother Jack (bass), formed a jazz outfit called Goats with Narcolepsy.
They all graduated and went to college, but after graduation, back in Cooperstown, they formed Hanzolo in 2015. “We got back together and decided to take it seriously,” he said.
“Hanzolo is really just a melding of Goats and Cheese folks,” said Katz.
Their first major live show was the 2016 Cooptoberfest, and along the way, they added a second drummer, Sebastian Green, a Milford native. Though they initially started with covers, they soon began writing their own music.
“We all have similar tastes in music,” said Carl. “Jack and I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, so that’s ingrained in us. It’s jazz and soul with a little weirdness.”
Similar tastes, even, in childhood pastimes. “We do a cover of the music for the character Pablo from the video game ‘Backyard Baseball’,” said Katz. “He’s the best player!”
The name comes from a combination of the ‘Star Wars’ character Han Solo and ‘Kill Bill’ character Hattori Hanzo. “For legal reason, we say it’s from ‘Kill Bill’,” joked Katz.
They bill themselves as “Upstate funk” or “Alt-funk.” “Even our covers fall into that mold,” said Jack. “Sebastian wanted us to play Justin Timberlake’s ‘My Love’ and he laid down this entirely different beat.”
According to Katz, Loewenguth writes “99.9 percent” of the songs, but he and Olmstead both contribute. “They’re all a little different, but they work in the same mold,” he said.
They released their debut album, “Table Butter” earlier this year. “A friend of ours came up with the title,” said Matson. “He described our sound as smooth enough to spread, but hard enough to hold together.”
The album is available on streaming platforms, including Spotify and iTunes, and in June, they shot a video for “Not Easy.”
“That song has a really romantic premises, to just keep dancing,” said Loewenguth. “We shot it at Innerskate 88, and the Hill City Rollers were our extras! The whole shoot was so fun.”
Katz lives in Boston and Green lives in Brooklyn, so they join the band when they can. “It’s just amazing playing with these guys, so I try to make it up as much as possible,” he said.
They’ll perform at Brewery Ommegang’s Firepit Friday on Sept. 20, and at the Schenectady County Funk N’ Jazz Festival on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Gateway Park.
And as winter settles in, they’re take a break from touring to work on their sophomore album. “We’ve got 15 new songs,” said Loewenguth.
To the Editor:
Senator Seward’s lament over taxes and fees passed in the recent legislative session (“A Little Here, A Little There. Suddenly, It’s Many Millions,” Sept. 5-6, 2019), provided a source of bemusement to this reader.
I kept remembering the multiple times over the years that Senator Seward has been part of a photo-op presentation in the media
where he was shown handing a New York State check (often around election season) to a local government or private organization to support a certain program or need.
Where does Senator Seward get those checks? The answer is obvious – from the coffers of the New York State treasury, funded by those very same taxes and fees he rails about.
I had hoped that we only had to put up with this type of hypocrisy at the federal
level; apparently, it has seeped into our state politics as well.
Begun inauspiciously in March 2014 with the felling of 37 trees on Main Street, a remarkable series of successes has followed in the reinvention of downtown Cooperstown for 21st century tourism.
The environmentally sensitive rain gardens, new sidewalks, streetlights, replacement of 19th century water mains and sewerage – even a new flag pole, embroiled in controversy as it now is – have followed in quick succession.
But it’s not over, as observed in the past few days, as the Upstate Companies, which is growing
into a Mount Upton-based behemoth, began working on the latest projects:
• One, the reinvention of pocket Pioneer Park, at Main and Pioneer, with a low stage, bike racks and water fountain, more benches and new plantings. The more open center will provide more elbow room around Santa’s Cottage, often packed as it is from Thanksgiving Weekend until the Big Day.
• Two, a new traffic signal setup at Pioneer and Chestnut. The Upstate crews are replacing curbs and sidewalks (with brick pavers) from Pine Boulevard to the intersection. The traffic light will be replaced with a single signal, just as it is, but adjustable to easy entry and exit from the nearby fire station.
Chestnut Street will be narrowed, for less-stressful pedestrian crossings, and a small plaza created in front of Mel’s. Plus, Walk/Don’t Walk signals will further ease pedestrians’ minds as they navigate more clearly delineated crosswalks, courtesy with long-lasting stripes from Andela Glass, the Richfield Springs recycling concern.
(That last piece depends on the weather, according to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch: Blacktop requires a stretch of 50-plus degree weather to cure.)
While this isn’t the beginning, it isn’t the end, either.
At Doubleday Field, water and sewer lines will be laid from the Main Street entrance to the left side of the grandstand to provide service to the restrooms, locker rooms and pavilion that will be part of next year’s third-baseline reconstruction.
Depending on how soon winter arrives, work may begin on the Main Street entrance, including the fancy arch pictured with this editorial.
Next summer, the construction should be going strong along Doubleday Field’s third-base line. The mayor isn’t sure how much will be done by next year’s 100th anniversary of the baseball landmark, but there should be enough to be impressive during ceremonies planned by the Friends of Doubleday.
That’s a lot in five years, but it’s not over – probably never over, Mayor Tillapaugh
Fowler Way, which leads to Doubleday from Chestnut Street, next to the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, is much used, but narrow, bumpy and lacking sidewalks, all of which could and should be addressed.
She is particularly interested in upgrading Hoffman Lane, across from the Hall of Fame, to lead more of the quarter-million fans that visit the Hall each year to Lakefront Park and James Fenimore Cooper’s Glimmerglass. Locals are often surprised to learn that many visitors are unaware the lake is even there.
Then, attention could turn to Railroad Avenue, which is becoming a center of local life and commerce, with Mike Manno’s 21 Railroad office building, and Attorney Michelle Kennedy’s office building next door, Cooperstown Distillery, the Railroad Inn, the renovated Spurbeck’s, Butch Welch’s recently redone parking lot,
and the Susquehanna & Western Railroad headquarters.
With the empty “Where It All Began” warehouse and other space for apartments, Railroad Avenue is a promising next center of population growth.
Will it ever end? Listening to the mayor, you have to conclude: Never, and it shouldn’t.
Editor’s Note: For free disposal of e-waste while you can, the county’s Hazardous Household Wast Disposal Day is 8-11 a.m. Friday at the Unadilla Town Garage, and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the county Meadows Complex off Route 33, Town of Middlefield.
But by this November, Otsego County will begin charging residents to recycle electronics – e-waste – because of continuing spikes in the cost and decreasing funding from the state to mitigate the cost.
A slew of variables have led to needing to impose recycling fees on e-waste. One is the cost, which before 2017, was “minimal,” according to Tammie Harris, a county planner.
But starting in 2017, costs have risen quickly – from $30,000 in 2017 to a projected $50,000 in 2019.
A second variable is decreasing support from New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had offered a grant that helped municipalities cover some of E-waste’s costs, but it is not offering the grant this year for unknown reasons.
Cooperstown residents should stand up against the Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts franchise proposed for the corner of Walnut Street and Route 28. Our town has consistently resisted the invasion of huge corporate franchises for decades, and we should oppose this incursion into our small village as well. So far, we have kept McDonald’s and Pizza Hut at bay, by keeping them several miles outside of town.
Anyone who drives around the town knows what a nightmare it is to get from Walnut Street to Route 28 during the Dreams Park season, when there is an unending line of traffic coming south on Route 28.
Putting a junk food franchise on that corner is not only going to make the traffic even more of a nightmare, but it is also going to divert tourists before they reach Main Street, where they might patronize some of our local businesses like Schneider’s Bakery, Danny’s Market, The Inside Scoop, Doubleday Café, Stagecoach, etc.
I’ll admit that Main Street has declined a bit since I grew up here in the 1970s, when we had two supermarkets on or near Main Street (the Victory and A&P), three hardware stores, a shoe store, and Newberry’s Department Store, which transformed into the Cooperstown General Store in later years but is now defunct and currently only hosts photographs related to the Hall of Fame and other local attractions.
Nowadays you have to travel to Oneonta for a lot of things you used to be able to buy right on Main Street, unless you’re looking for baseball souvenirs, of course.
Nevertheless, if we open the floodgates to trashy fast food franchises our town is going to be transformed into just another mass-produced consumption economy that will leave us looking no different than any other small town across America that has sold out their mom and pop stores to kneel at the feet of corporate giants that couldn’t care less about our local businesses.
Let’s not bow to the WalMart-ization of Cooperstown. Let your representatives know that you do not want corporate franchises anywhere near our lovely little town.
I am writing on behalf of Victoria Pressly, who has been a friend of mine for the past 10 years.
If I had to think of one word to describe Victoria, it would be “passionate.” She is passionate about life. She is passionate about her family. She is passionate about her clients and career.
Victoria’s career has required a significant amount of travel, and yet when I think of her, I think of the mom who is at every soccer game, school play and concert. She not only cares deeply about her children, she is incredibly supportive and involved in their lives.
Victoria is also dedicated to her clients. Living in Upstate New York, there are many challenges that must be overcome to build a thriving career, and yet Victoria managed to do just that while raising a family. I have often heard her speak about her clients with both the fierce determination to help them succeed and the protectiveness of a mother hen. It has always been obvious that she cares deeply.
My children and Victoria’s children are similar in age so I understand fully the time and emotional commitment involved in being a mother. I also work full time and know the challenges of managing family and career. Victoria has always impressed me with her ability to not only manage, but thrive and remain passionate about both.
Editor’s Note: Paula DiPerna, the author and global strategic environmental policy adviser who ran for Congress in 1992 for the 23rd District, which then included Otsego County, has a home in Cooperstown. This is an excerpt from her latest book, “Travels in the Time of Trump.” DiPerna will be giving a book talk at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta.
By PAULA DiPERNA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
“Let facts be submitted to a candid world,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, leading off the extensive list of grievances the American colonies had against King George of England. That candid world watches still today.
Since Donald Trump’s election, I have traveled all the continents except Antarctica, meeting countless persons who had just one question for me, “How could America stray so far from
Implicit in the question and what touched me so deeply was the extent to which America, our democratic values and quest for a more perfect union, had put us on a pedestal worldwide.
And, the extent to which the Trump Presidency has shaken the fragile house that is the American system of checks and balances, and normalized reckless Presidential behavior that other nations, much more despotic, now may think acceptable.
So, reflecting Jefferson, I present these facts, excerpted from my book, “Travels in the Time of Trump”:
►He, President Trump has refused his “Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,”
►By interfering with ongoing legal actions, such as through the summary firing of the head of the FBI, who was in a position to uncover facts that might have illuminated illegal actions taken or permitted by the President;
►He has likely obstructed the Administration of Justice by the above and, in addition;
►He has interfered with the free press, prohibited by the Amendment I of the Constitution, by proclaiming publicly and repeatedly that the media, the vehicle of the free press, do not love their country and are an enemy of the people most often because the press had commented negatively about him.
►He threatened to close down the government of the U.S. if the Congress did not vote funds to support a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, an explicit undermining of his oath since protecting the U.S. Constitution means to protect the United States government.
►He has egregiously put the Republic and the world at risk of nuclear war by taunting and threatening foreign governments able to conduct such nuclear war, including at the United Nations where, without prior authority from the Congress, he declared that the United States would have no choice but to totally destroy another nation, a blatant and unprecedented abuse of power that, in any case, could not be undertaken without an Act of War declared by Congress;
►And, in a flagrant, public and illegal attack on the people’s rights to free speech as protected
unequivocally and without reservation in Amendment I of the Constitution, he has explicitly called for punishment of protesters who chose to kneel
during the U.S. National Anthem to protest racial injustice, stating that such protesters should be fired from their lawful positions, thereby violating outright the letter and spirit of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a violation of the President’s Oath of Office, clearly an impeachable offense.
To travel in the time of Trump is to witness the degree to which the world’s dedication to democracy is being eroded.
COOPERSTOWN – Two weeks before his baseball buddy Richard Faust died, Steve Murfin and his pal were at the annual Baltimore Orioles “Dream Week” in Florida.
“I was talking to my mother on the phone, and I handed the phone to him,” said Murfin. “He told her jokes and made her laugh for 10 minutes, and when she handed the phone back, she said, ‘I love that guy. He’ll never change and that’s great’.”
Faust, 70, who ran the annual Cooperstown tournament for members of the Orioles fantasy camp, died suddenly this past Feb. 27 in Washington D.C.
“He loved Doubleday Field,” said Murfin. “He always wanted his ashes spread here, and although we can’t do that, we’ll have a ceremony for him,” he said. “We loved him, and he loved us.”
COOPERSTOWN – Most downtown stores were having a pretty soft Induction Weekend 2019, including Muskrat Hill, proprietor Neil Weiller reported the other day.
Henry to the rescue!
The first three boxes of new Henry T-shirts, based on Weiller’s loveable Labrador retriever/shop mascot, arrived in the nick of time.
“I sold four pieces as I was taking them out of the box,” the merchant reported. “I had a great Induction Weekend: because of Henry T-shirts.”
By weekend’s end, the first shipment – 144 shirts, ranging from $18 for short-sleeve youth to $28 for long-sleeve adult – had sold out.
“Henry’s become my Number One shirt,” said Weiller, who since then has reordered three times.
Muskrat Hill, at 139 Main St., is also selling Henry stickers. And Weiller is in conversations with illustrators and authors to create a book, perhaps “A Day In Henry’s Life.”
Weiller was raised in California, but his family had a summer home on Otsego Lake – he’s related to Wyckoffs, Hokes, Rathbuns, Thayers – and he spent many boyhood vacations locally.
After a career in finance in New York City – he held key financial positions with Wedgewood and Fred Joaillier, the high-end French jeweler – he moved to Cooperstown in 1991 and opened Muskrat Hill, originally a ladies’ gift shop.
On a visit to Carmel, Calif., he happened on “Life is Good” T-shirts, had some designed with Cooperstown motifs, and soon that line made up 60 percent of his business – 90 percent, one Christmas. He found another best-seller in Crocs.
Today, the store’s branched out to include such private-labels additions as “Relief Pitcher,” bearing a pitcher of beer; “Untapped Potential, with a baseball motif, and “Just Another Beer Drinker with A Baseball Problem – Cooperstown, NY.”
All shirts are of the same high-quality as “Life is Good” products.
Weiller’s mother, Virginia, who retired from a successful business career of her own, helped her son staff the store for years, and it was she who first raised the question of Henry’s profit-making possibilities – and Ginger’s, who preceded Henry.
After Ginger passed away in 2016, friends of the family who were in the dog-breeding business out West thought Neil would benefit from getting another dog. “I wasn’t looking for a champion; I wanted a companion,” said Weiller, who’s mom passed away in February 2018.
As it turns out, Henry has “a pretty good pedigree” – but his size, thick coat, sweet face and mild temperament that makes him such an attraction.
During the summer, a Dreams Park visitor often stops to pet Henry, buys a shirt and return with the shirt on to snap a picture with the photogenic dog. Often, the whole team and their families will return to buy shirts and get photos.
While Weiller is being interviewed, as if on cue, an aunt and two twin girls from the Hudson Valley come in the door. “Can we pet him?” the aunt asks.
“I thought the T-shirts would be popular with girls,” said Neil, since they often stop in. “It ended up being everybody.”