Fall 2019
Mohonk Mountain House By Debbie Eisele

A rich history of green practices, mindful living, and a focus on nature

Mohonk Mountain House was founded 150 years ago in 1869. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark located in the scenic Hudson Valley in New York, about 90 miles from New York City. The resort offers a myriad of activities, wellness programs, and retail shopping experiences.

Mohonk Mountain Resort winter image Photo courtesy of Mohonk. Mohonk Winter Holiday at Summerhouse
Photo courtesy of Mohonk Mountain Resort. All photos courtesy of Mohonk Gift Shop.

Four seasons of interest and adventure intrigue guests — from skiing in winter to outdoor activities in summer. Owned and operated by the Smiley Family since its founding, Mohonk has grown; today it can host 600 guests, sits on over 240 acres, and offers a 30,000 square-foot spa. Retail services, according to records, have been available since 1884. And another reference to a shop was noted in 1902, where Native American and Mexican wares were sold.

Mohonk Gift Shop and Soda Fountain 1919.

One of the main attractions to the Mohonk Gift Shop is the old-fashioned soda fountain, which has been there since 1909 and has served patrons for 110 years. This year, Mohonk is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and there is a special menu available that includes recipes that were originally published in 1925.

Mohonk offers a variety of retail environments: Mohonk Gift Shop, Greenhouse & Garden Shop, Spa & Fitness Boutiques, Mohonk Florist, Golf Shop, and Tennis Pro Shop. Gift Shop talked with Candy Martin, gift shop manager at Mohonk, to learn more about the options on the property.

Candy Martin Mohonk Gift Shop Manager
Candy Martin, gift shop manager, Mohonk.

Gift Shop (GS): What kinds of signature and custom products does Mohonk Mountain House sell in its gift shops?

Candy Martin (CM): We offer many custom product lines. In fact, Mohonk branded items make up 42% of our annual sales. We offer everything like your usual souvenir key chains, magnets, pens, postcards, ornaments, and mugs. We also offer custom tapestry blankets, pillows, tote bags — woven in the USA, locally created gold and silver charms, plush animals with Mohonk collars, apparel, photography and artwork of Mohonk, and bath lines created especially for us.

This year we also have a variety of merchandise with a special commemorative 150th Anniversary logo. We worked with Halo, one of our New York vendors, to create a double-sided puzzle for our anniversary; one side has a recent color image of Mohonk Mountain House and the other side has a black and white archival image from 1932.

Mohonk 150th Anniversary 2-Sided Puzzle
Mohonk worked with HALO to customize its 150th anniversary two-sided puzzle.

GS: How difficult is it to source product for so many types of retail environments?

CM: Luckily we live in a region rich with local shows and craft fairs that we attend to find new vendors. We try to look for smaller companies with items you can’t find in just any store so we can offer our guests a more unique assortment of merchandise to choose from. We also attend the NY NOW shows and keep a watchful eye on popular trends and colors. 

We have a few standards when choosing companies; we only buy from cruelty free companies. We also do our best to choose companies that use all natural ingredients, use sustainable energy, make their products in the United States or Canada, England, France, and donate proceeds to charities. About 90% of our vendors’ products are either made in America or are Fair Trade. We also have an excellent online source for smaller companies that share our standards.  

Mohonk Mountain House's Gift Shop product display

GS: How do you handle seasonal display rotations within each store?

CM: I like to make a chart up a year in advance with all of the holidays, seasons, and theme programs listed. Theme Programs are weekend events throughout the year that feature different topics such as culinary, yoga, music, dance, nature, gardening, puzzles, and more. We have a Murder Mystery Weekend, Scottish Weekend, and a few weekends geared toward couples and girlfriend getaways. Then, I come up with the dates I’d like everything to be ordered by, and the dates I’d like each display to be changed over. That way we know well in advance when the displays will change and create eye catching displays that will appeal to our unique guests.

Mohonk Gift Shop merchandise display

GS: What are the top-selling categories?

CM: Souvenirs and clothing with our logo make up 42% of our annual sales. The Soda Fountain, gourmet foods, and sundries make up 23%, and giftware makes up the rest. Some of our most popular items include lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that can be found in the guest rooms, as well as the Orange Pekoe and Cut Black Mohonk Tea that is served every day during Afternoon Tea & Cookies. Other top-sellers include Kimonos, natural stone jewelry, handmade fabric floral hair clips and headbands, and zipper pouches with fun sayings and cute designs. 

Gift Shop Entrance at Mohonk Mountain House

GS: What makes Mohonk Mountain House gift shops unique?

CM: At Mohonk, we have a rich history of green practices, mindful living, and a focus on nature. We try to align our products with those values to enrich our guests’ stay. We have a popular Mindfulness in Minutes program here and we carry several books and journals that encourage mindfulness in daily life. We have a jewelry line that calls out the healing and meditative properties of each stone for the buyer to make an apt purchase based on his or her needs or the needs of a friend or loved one.

We choose toys that focus on learning and being a good human, but also have fun favorites like sparkly butterfly wings and tutus, magic trick sets, stickers, hand puppets, plush birds that sing when you squeeze them, and felt mobiles for the baby’s room.

We also have a small room dedicated to local artisans; potters, milliners, candle makers, authors, artists, weavers, printers, jewelry-makers, wood-workers, to name just a few.  We have so much local talent that their wares spill out into the main shop, which is just as well, because everyone loves to bring home something locally made.

Mohonk Mountain House
Photo courtesy of Michael Kline.

Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, which now includes museums&MORE, Stationery Trends and for a variety of specialty publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop and Celebrations & Occasions.




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