The Nutleys must have done something right. Their sons, Sean and Dennis, both grew up with fine aesthetic sensibilities and enough practical gumption to put them to good use as retailers of the refined sort. Sean is one of the founders of the upscale kitchen supply store bluecashew, now in a new location and in its third iteration as bluecashew Kitchen Homestead or bKH for short. Dennis reigns over the creative jumble of the Green Cottage in High Falls, a shop brimming with flowers, jewelry and gifts.
Dennis Nutley has supplied offbeat and gorgeous flower arrangements to the locals since 1997, with a sentimentalist’s eye to honoring special occasions as well as everyday life. His expert team of florists, including Zoya Geacintov and Galen Green, creates arrangements that “reflect and refine the vision” of each client by mixing common blossoms with more extraordinary and unusual flowers.
You’ll find every surface of the Green Cottage covered with baby gifts, wedding gifts, candles, soaps, shawls, cookbooks, finger puppets, ceramics, bags, outdoor statuary, chocolates and greeting cards. Jewelrymaker David Urso has a studio on the premises, where he and assistant Lora Shelley craft funky-to-sophisticated bracelets, earrings, pins and necklaces.
And the overwhelming selection of refrigerated flowers always on hand can be turned into bouquets while you wait. Brace yourself: The olfactory combination of fragrant lotions and potions, soaps, candles and all those flowers, combined with the colorful plethora of gift items, could make a shopper dizzy with delight.
Asked if he and Sean exhibited especially artistic tendencies when they were younger, Dennis says that he has always done flowers, even as a little kid. “My mom was a great gardener, and my aunt let me cut [flowers] when I visited her… Our dad was a cop and Mom was a homemaker: very traditional. They were pretty horrified when we didn’t go to work for the City. Retail is risky. There’s no cushion, and it makes my parents very nervous. After 20 years, I think they’ve relaxed a little bit.”
As for his style philosophy, Dennis says that he likes to offer something for everybody, so people can come in and spend $3 for a small item that’s cool or $300 for a big event. “I try to cover the basics, especially in our area. I don’t want to just cater to the weekenders. My business now is supported more by the locals. We had to be here long enough for people to feel comfortable, I think. Before, they just assumed we were here for the weekenders. The wedding business is probably less local, because for New York City, this is a wedding destination.”
Nutley has four part-time employees doing flowers, and Urso has two in the back: “We all vacillate back and forth.” It’s a system that works when a customer comes in and suddenly needs flowers for a wedding the next day. Flowers are perishable, and everything has an expiration date in his mind. “If my arrangements don’t last a long time, I want to hear about it. I sell things in tight bud, so that they get prettier when they get them home.”
In the winter he uses a couple of major suppliers, but during the summer season he tries to buy from local growers and even cuts things growing right outside the shop. “Everything looks more like it came from a garden. Plus, we make a beautiful Christmas wreath, which will be available starting on Thanksgiving.” To celebrate his 20th anniversary in High Falls, Dennis and associates will hold an Open House – an annual event – on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sean B. Nutley and his partner J. T. McKay have recently installed bluecashew Kitchen Homestead into the former location of J & J Hobbies in Kingston’s Stockade District, a transition that has literally moved the retail space on North Front Street into the 21st century. Bluecashew, which was originally located in High Falls and then moved for a seven-year stint in Rhinebeck, has always offered a finely curated assortment of functional and decorative merchandise: tools, cookware, china and pottery, flatware and anything else that would grace a table and make an ardent cook’s life more pleasant.
Renovating the space in Kingston has been a creative challenge in itself. The unmistakably avant-garde partners have employed “radical immersive experiential art, Old World techniques and tradition and contemporary thought in a storm of limitless innovation.” In other words, they gutted it and started from scratch – but not without the expertise of interior designer Carrie Bono of Rhinebeck Kitchen & Bath. This partnership was formed especially for the construction of a fully equipped demonstration kitchen, where world-class chefs and foodies with eclectic expertise can drop in and share their knowledge.
Bluecashew has always hosted cookbook authors and chefs for book-signings and events. This project takes hosting to a new level, as guest notables and customers can hang out in Bono and McKay’s dream kitchen with its Wolf and Sub-Zero home appliances, sueded black maple Brookhaven cabinetry, black soapstone counters from Barra & Trumbore in Kerhonkson and custom flourishes made by Kingston’s own reclaimed wood specialists, Excelsior Wood Products.
The designing pair (McKay is former creative director of the global China Grill Management restaurant group) has worked to create a farmhouse feel in the kitchen, with rustic beam shelving, rolling butcherblock carts and a 14-by-16-foot hemlock frame suspended overhead to canopy the area below. It’s a priority to the whole team that the experience in the kitchen be of equal importance as the merchandise on the surrounding shelves.
To that end, Nutley and McKay intend to highlight the resurgence of small-scale farming and backyard gardening in our region – endeavors altering the agricultural landscape and inspiring people to broaden and improve their dietary habits. Through cooking demos and hands-on education, they want to “ensure that no resource is squandered due to lack of knowledge with regard to our home efforts of crafting and preserving the fruits of our communal agricultural efforts.”
“I’ve had my eyes on Kingston for six years,” says Sean. “This is the place I used to buy my grandfather’s Christmas presents, here in the hobby shop. This one had trains and everything. So this is full-circle for me.” The partners talk about how serendipitous the process of landing here actually was. “People are reaching out, buying us cookies and bottles of champagne. And the warmth in Kingston: The first day we opened the store, while we were still unpacking, a customer from High Falls came in to say how glad he is that we’re back.”
Bono emphasizes the design considerations that were addressed to maintain versatility, so that the space could accommodate events, be a film studio, host charity endeavors and, most importantly, make a statement about how important it is to get into fresh foods. “This is not going to be a cooking school,” says McKay. “It will feel more like a home kitchen. This is very much a home, like a set. It has to be comfortable and familiar and fun.”
Nutley and McKay are already engaging with a broader slice of food-related entities, such as the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, People’s Place and Farm On! “Lots of creative, exciting things will come out of here. We’re a concept store,” says Sean.
Theories on the mastery of edible crafting, support of local growers, making the most of Hudson Valley bounty: all fun and noble goals to attempt while chopping veggies or flipping pancakes in a well-conceived demonstration kitchen. Where else can you try out culinary tools prior to purchase and gain experience with community-sourced ingredients? Keep a lookout for upcoming demos and other events, and watch for info on a bluecashew Grand Opening celebration to be held between Christmas and New Year’s.
It’s clear that the Nutley brothers each have their business priorities straight: to offer nothing less than honest excellence in materials, products and friendly service to all. The Nutleys should be proud.
Bluecashew Kitchen Homestead is now located at 37 North Front Street in Kingston; (845) 876-1117, www.bluecashewkitchen.com. The Green Cottage is located at 1204 Route 213 in the village of High Falls; (845) 687-4810, https://thegreencottage.com.