BES brings life, and art, to John Street in Millerton
MILLERTON — Among its imaginative stores, great eateries, frequent festivals and welcoming community, Millerton has a way of drawing shoppers, diners, moviegoers, artists and tourists of all kinds and encouraging them to wander the along the sidewalks to slowly discover its many unique creations on display, all while enjoying the one-of-a-kind village experience.
So when ceramicist Erica Recto decided to pursue her long-time dream of opening a store, she couldn’t have had better timing or chosen a better spot than she did for BES, the unique boutique in the village where artistic pieces of all shapes and sizes have been displayed since last May. The Millerton News checked in to see how BES is doing today.
Recto, a Millerton resident, said long before BES came into being, she was already rooted in the art realm by way of her artwork and ceramics. Her work can be found online at www.ericarecto.art.
When she at last decided to open a retail space in Millerton, she said, “People were craving connection and I know a lot of my fellow artists were hard hit by the pandemic and in need of places to show and sell their work.”
But Recto said she needed support in her pursuit of opening a shop and looked toward the Hudson River Exchange (HRE).
HRE is a collective geared toward connecting with artisans and offering them a space to sell their work, which can be found at www.hudsonriverexchange.com.
BES offers a collaborative retail space created in a partnership between Recto and HRE.
HRE Director Stella Yoon said the Exchange was happy to explore how retail is evolving, and a way to access a physical space to present local wares to customers, which exactly what she did last spring when Recto reached out to see if she’d be interested in collaborating on opening a store.
By Memorial Day weekend, BES opened at 1 John St., which is that curious uphill street right behind the Oakhurst Diner on Main Street.
For those wondering about the store’s name, BES derives from a Filipino slang term “bes,” which translates to “best friend.”
In addition to Recto’s own locally-made pottery, BES also features the work of 20 other Hudson Valley artists from Yoon’s roster. There is hand-painted, hand-sculpted and other handmade artwork, plus Recto partnered with Caora Farms in Millerton and knitters from the Harlem Valley to sell goods made from Millerton-grown wool.
With Yoon managing the store’s inventory, Recto is able to focus on creating her own artwork and running the store.
Along with generating a new audience for her artwork, Recto said BES is “a love letter to the creativity that abounds in the area.
“We display the work in a gallery-like setting so you can truly appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into every piece,” she said.
Indeed, against the crisp white walls, the shelves and tables of locally curated artwork and other handcrafted items stand out, beckoning customers to take a closer look.
Recto said they try hard not to overlap inventory with other stores in the village and to know the background of what’s featured on their floor.
“There’s definitely a bit of being open to working with the community,” Recto said, highlighting their work in finding ways to integrate with local shoppers.
Overall, BES is an evolving embodiment of HRE’s philosophy, “Creativity loves company,” a changing showcase of what Hudson Valley makers are crafting. Reflecting on the advantages of having a physical space in which to display their wares, Yoon said, “There’s a desire for a connection… and I think the nature of handmade [items] is [they are] so tactile and something you want to experience in-person.”
Recto said the store is now obtaining some seasonal goods that will be refreshed in the coming months.
Looking ahead, she said she hopes to continue honing its focus to keep bringing compelling local wares into the shop. Additionally, she’s in the process of making the store available online both in response to concerns about future surges in the COVID-19 pandemic and to help provide access to BES products for people who live further away or who can’t visit during store hours.
BES is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays; from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; and closed Mondays through Thursdays, except by appointment. To make an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.shop-bes.com.