Manny’s: New Paltz’s oldest art store to turn 50

Marilyn and Rebecca Golgoski advertise their annual ornament-decorating contest in front of the newly refurbished facade of Manny’s in downtown New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Since mid-October, work crews have toiled to upgrade the look of a New Paltz Main Street landmark — Manny’s Art Supplies. The storefront’s once-plain glass windows have given way to a new cut stone and stucco façade. Owner Marilyn Golgoski couldn’t be happier.

To her, the redecoration of the storefront says a lot about the journey her entire family has gone through to get to this point. Manny’s new look also comes in time for the family-owned art shop to have a momentous anniversary.

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“It works out well, because Manny’s itself is going to turn 50 — 50 years in business and second generation — in the summer,” the store owner said.

Golgoski’s father, Manny Lipton, founded the art supply store in the early ’60s after years of working as a traveling salesman. He’d noticed the students, from what was then the State Teachers College at New Paltz, always needed art supplies. His store — one of the first in area — sold a curious mix of sundries beyond the typical canvas, watercolor paper and pencils.

“The merchandise in the store, there’s a wide range because way back when, when we started, we were the first of everything. A lot of these other stores weren’t here,” she said. “Way back in the ’60s we were like the first head shop. We were the first used book and album shop — and that’s why there’s things here that maybe you wouldn’t see in a new business that opened now.”

While Lipton’s daughter and son-in-law shifted the focus a little more towards art supplies, Manny’s still sells a lot of unusual items — in part to honor the spirit of its founder. They sell medieval sealing wax and monogram sigils. They have a display of vintage movie posters for sale up in the front window. They sell handmade papers, dime store candies — like Bazooka Joe gum — small toy figurines and games for kids.

“We’re the original — and nothing beats the original,” she said. “We’re like the old Woolworth’s. A kid can come in here with like 25 cents and afford something.”

Earlier this week, Manny’s also kicked off its ninth year of the Ornament Decorating Contest. Festive holiday contestants pay $2 to pick up a paper-mache ornament from the art store. Decoration makers have options, because they can choose from shapes like snowmen, angels, bells, snowflakes and others.

According to Rebecca Golgoski, there aren’t a lot of rules — other than a ban on profane using language – for how people decorate the ornaments once they bring them home. Participants have used pinecones and other found materials to enhance their ornaments. Others have used carvings to create their masterpiece.

“People get very crafty,” said Rebecca, who is Lipton’s granddaughter and the third generation at work at the store. “We’ve had some pretty crafty Santa sleighs, some glitzed out Christmas trees.”

New Paltz is a multi-cultural college town that’s home to Christians, Arabs, Jews, atheists, Buddhists and new wave spiritualists. And as such, Rebecca noted that Manny’s had set up the contest to be nondenominational. “It’s not just about Christmas or Hanukkah.”

Typically, the store has seen anywhere from 100 to 150 people sign up for the contest each year. Money raised through the contest goes to help Family of New Paltz and other local charities.

People can pick up the ornaments any time, but they must be returned by Friday, Dec. 14. Judges will deem which of the decorations handed in at Manny’s are the best.

For more information about the contest, call 255-9902 or visit www.mannysart.com. To see behind-the-scenes pictures from Manny’s storefront renovation, search for them on Facebook. You can also check out the new store in person at 83 Main Street in New Paltz.

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