Why not add a full-line, local-focus gift shop to an already bustling restaurant and boutique in the midst of a pandemic when even the most seasoned merchants can’t be sure of the next set of rules that might change the whole way they have to do business?
That’s indeed what Cory Moffat did in May of this year, when she opened the doors of The Mingo Market, on the grounds of Sam Smith’s Boatyard on Route 80, just outside of Cooperstown’s village limits. It’s the same Otsego Lake location that features the Blue Mingo Grill.
“This building has been a few things,” Mrs. Moffat said as she toured the shop, a structure that once housed the boat shop for her father, Sam Smith. “Cooperstown Christmas, then an antique shop, and a junk shop. When we decided to clear it out for The Mingo Market, we had three dumpsters full of things to throw out.”
“This is where Dad had his sail loft,” she said. “I wanted to keep a lot of the original feel in place. We’ve kept a lot of the original fixtures and flooring to make it authentic and a real reflection of Cooperstown and its history.”
Keeping it local, Mrs. Moffat has filled the shop with products from local vendors and gift items specific to Cooperstown and Otsego Lake.
“Our store focuses heavily on sustainable and fair-trade goods, one-of-a-kind items from women-owned companies,” she said. “I wanted to create a local-feeling store that appeals to all ages and features work from local artists.”
“I love it when people come in and tell us we have so much to look at — everything from woodsy décor to baby and wellness items,” she said, commenting, too, about adding specialty food products to the mix.
A lifetime spent in retail and working with the public gave her on-the-spot training for having the right mix of merchandise on hand. She grew up working in another family business — Cooperstown’s Church Mouse Boutique.
“I can’t pinpoint how I know what to have on hand and what to order for the new seasons,” she said. “I guess it’s just in my DNA.”
The Mingo Market, she said, collects all of her personal and professional interests in one location.
“I love cooking, I love offering products that influence the way people dress or decorate,” she said. “The Mingo Market brings it full-circle, right down to the place we’ve put the store.”
“We had a strong first year despite the pandemic,” she noted. “We’re looking forward to when Cooperstown is filled again. We have a lot of good products to show.”