Retiring IBM software engineer Craig Henkle opened TheGreenSpace in the Rondout District of Kingston about six months ago. The small shop sells high-quality food and drink, with every item available something that was produced in New York State.
The one-man operation is currently open afternoons only, from about 12 noon to 6 p.m., because Henkle is still working half-days at IBM. By the end of the year he’ll retire, and in 2014 he plans to increase the store’s opening hours when he’ll have the time – although he does plan to continue to run the store solo. “Yes, because simplicity is key for me,” he says. “I want this to be simple and straightforward.”
Henkle originally wanted to open a magazine store and newsstand at the site featuring environmentally oriented publications. He has run a bookstore in the past, and enjoys that business. Ultimately he decided not to try to compete with booksellers on the Internet, and with an interest in buying and selling locally produced foods, decided instead to open TheGreenSpace to build upon that.
“I recently started getting in a lot of hot sauces,” says Henkle. “It seems to be a popular item. I have over 30 different kinds right now.” Most of the hot sauces he carries are lower on the Scoville scale (the measurement of the heat of chili peppers) – “quite palatable,” he says – but he did get in a few small bottles of superhot varieties Night of Hell and Bad Blood, which are “not the type you take teaspoonfuls of,” according to Henkle.
The merchandise in his shop is often from producers who are members of Pride of New York, a program developed by the Department of Agriculture to promote New York farmers, retailers, restaurants and related culinary interests. Henkle is a member himself.
At this time most of the products he sells are “shelf-stable”: products such as granolas, salsas, sauces, dried fruits and nuts, chocolates and coffee. Henkle says that as he moves into full-time hours next year, he’ll probably stock additional fresh items, and perhaps even make his own products. For now, TheGreenSpace features enticing edibles such as North Fork Potato Chips, produced in Cutchogue; Organic Nectars’ Cashewtopia Gelato, created in Malden; Harney & Sons’ Organic Iced Tea, made in Millerton; and Bruce Cost’s Fresh Ginger Ale, produced in Brooklyn.
Henkle says that although he’s a specialty retailer, his prices aren’t high, and in fact he can beat the bigger stores on many items because he buys directly from the producer.