What would Heaven be like for a hippie/counterculture type who never cared about money in her youth? Or a retirement scenario in which money is no object? The exteriors would likely include plenty of misty redwood forests, deserted beaches, mystical springs and meditative desert vistas; but the interiors would ideally be furnished by Bosco’s Mercantile in Saugerties. It’s hard to imagine a better place to find cozy home décor for your private domain that’s ethically sourced from organically raised fibers.
The term “softscaping” is used by landscape designers when they’re talking about the use of plants to transition the exterior of a building into its natural environment. But it’s a word that also leaps to mind when one explores Laura Huron’s delightful shop at 89A Partition Street. While you can find solid objects there, like candles and carved wooden kitchen implements and vials of skin lotion, most of what surrounds you is fabric, soft, cushy, inviting to the touch – one might even say “amniotic.” If living through the self-isolation of the pandemic inspired you to prioritize making your personal space more welcoming and comfortable, Bosco’s is the place to find what you need to line it.
“Textiles really are my jam,” says Huron, a San Francisco native who moved to Manhattan in her 20s to work in the fashion industry. She soon learned that making displays of products look visually appealing was her special talent. “Armani’s director of visual merchandising took me under her wing,” she relates. “I was responsible for opening shop-in-shops across the country.”
Upon moving back to California, she found herself recruited by Calvin Klein Home, then in its startup phase, and Huron discovered that she preferred working with fabrics for home décor over clothing. “The home world had a much slower pace. I came on as a visual manager for the West Coast. I helped develop the branding, the look and feel.” Rolling out new product lines and collections “from the ground up” scratched her itch to be creative.
Moving from launch to launch, designing showrooms across the country, Huron worked for Donna Karan Home for a while. She returned to New York City, eventually founding her own visual merchandising agency, L & K Creative Solutions, which still exists. Through it all, she harbored a secret dream of opening her own small bedding shop. But she wasn’t thinking about the Hudson Valley as a destination at all. “I used to do summers in Fire Island. I was an ocean girl,” she recalls.
A six-year stint with Marimekko ended in 2016 when the company went through a restructuring. Feeling “burnt-out,” “having a mini-breakdown stage of life,” she came up to Saugerties to spend Thanksgiving with a cousin, and fell in love with the “enchanting little village.” She was introduced to Daisy Bolle, owner of the clothing store Dig and a space next door that she “wanted to get rid of.”
But what a space: The building that now houses Bosco’s Mercantile is blessed with a stunning glassed-in atrium that protrudes into a gorgeous courtyard next door. The opportunities that this setup offered for seasonal merchandising arrays and even indoor/outdoor events were not lost on Huron. In her mind’s eye, she realized, “This could be my dream.” She called up a friend and former colleague, Jeff Lee, asking for advice on whether this idea was plausible, and got an emphatic thumbs-up. “Within three months, I had moved upstate,” she says. “I walked in, had a vision and put it down.”
While there was some culture shock involved for the big-city girl relocating to a provincial village, Huron has clearly found her niche – one lined with Bengali kantha quilts made from repurposed saris, Peruvian pillows pieced together from old rugs, kapok floor cushions from the French company Tensira, sheets made of organic cotton and stonewashed linen from Portugal imported by her favorite bedding brand, Coyuchi. Many of the products she features are manufactured by small women-owned cooperatives in Third World countries. Pajamas by Sleep Domi and robes and towels by Dusen Dusen are made from GOTS-certified organically grown cotton. “A lot of cotton is treated with formaldehyde,” she notes with distaste.
According to Bosco’s mission statement, “Our aim is to create a store-to-home experience, which helps you enhance your lifestyle.” The lifestyle being promoted here is a healthy as well as a comfortable one, never flashy or ostentatious. Fabric colors tend to be muted, though the textures are luxurious. “You spend a good part of your time in bed. Your bedding should be scrumptious,” Huron avers. Customers who have been cocooning through COVID say “Amen” to that.
Bosco’s Mercantile has hit a sweet spot by aiming for a midrange market. The stuff for sale here is neither bargain-basement cheap nor priced beyond your wildest dreams; a delicious oversized throw goes for around $150, for example. There are lower price points for shoppers seeking a small-but-tasteful gift, notably the bath products and candles. The candle line by Anecdote is worth a purchase simply for the wry product descriptions. Meditation (palo santo/black cedar) “smells like mindless mindfulness,” Old Flame (santal) like “bad mistakes and repeat offenders,” Adulting (fig/cashmere) like “early nights and steady paychecks.” There are products for the cherished child in one’s life as well: baby and toddler clothes inscribed with slogans such as Little Activist, Love Is Love, Speaker of the House, and adorable, collectible stuffed mice, bears and bunnies from Maileg.
Outside-the-bedroom apparel made from comfy, sustainably manufactured fabrics hasn’t gone entirely by the wayside. Last year Huron opened Bosco’s Little Shop, also in downtown Saugerties at 230 Main Street, to carry her favorite clothing lines. But it’s rearranging the softscape at Bosco’s Mercantile where you’ll typically find her. “I spend most of my days surrounded by things that I love,” she says happily. “I really found my people, and I love the community.”
Bosco’s Mercantile is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, until 6 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Check out the wares online at https://boscosmercantile.com and www.facebook.com/boscosmercantile. Laura Huron does commissioned interior design and furnishing for AirBnBs as well.