Opening the door to PORCH Home + Gifts in Mount Kisco starts quite the sensory journey.
First, there’s an incredibly lovely scent, perhaps from the candles or maybe the bath products.
As you’re thinking about it, you also notice your eyes are darting about, from the unusual chair with a pagoda-themed back to the variety of wooden tables artfully filled with everything from dessert spoons to glassware, linens to platters, candlesticks to gourmet goodies.
And there’s that bicycle perched above the counter, not to mention the porch swing in the large front window.
It’s a dazzling array of singular finds, one that has you quickly making mental notes of what you want to have or give — or simply admire or touch.
How did this shop, opened in October by Jen Gerken and Suzanne Grant, come about?
Gerken, a Pound Ridge resident, has a background in interior design, while Grant, of Mount Kisco, brings experience in marketing and branding. The business partners first became friends through their extensive volunteer work. Over time, they realized they worked well together and decided to translate that compatibility into the first retail venture for them both.
Things came together quickly, with the pair zeroing in on the longtime but long-vacant home of the Art Emporium. Extensive renovations yielded the airy, easygoing-yet-sophisticated space that has already been embraced by the town — and the region.
“The community’s been very welcoming,” Grant says on a recent afternoon.
“We talk to everyone who comes in,” she adds, with customers often saying one of two things: “We’re so glad you’re here” or “We needed a store just like this.”
Customer input influences what ends up on display, though any item for sale must pass a key test.
“It’s really important that we both love it,” Gerken says.
The pair adds that while they share a vision, they don’t have identical tastes, which leads to good interplay.
Grant says the parameters were quickly established — “home accents and gifts for the home. It was that simple.”
A clear focus, she adds with a laugh, prevents them from any potential “Ooh, shiny things” distractions when on buying trips.
Gerken adds they are “finding it interesting what people are gravitating towards.”
Already, Grant notes, “People love our tabletop category.”
Gerken adds, “Color has been very popular,” as has texture.
Examples include a collection of brightly hued mugs that while appearing to be vintage tin are actually contemporary ceramic, while texture is embodied, as Grant points out, by an alpaca pillow from Herde de Ferme. It’s one of several items from the Westchester-based collection of luxury clothing and accessories created from cruelty-free, sustainable alpaca fur and fleece launched in 2017 by WAG’s own publisher, Dee DelBello.
Showcasing other local artists and artisans is a part of the plan, evidenced by everything from paintings to woodwork, with a sign explaining that a cheeseboard is “made by local woodworker, business owner and all-around nice guy Pete Menzies.”
As Gerken says of products such as the Ajiri line of teas and coffees that support orphans in Kenya, “We both really love products that have a story behind them.”
Amid new merchandise are nestled a number of vintage treasures from the shop’s own line called UVO (Unique, Vintage and Original). UVO items represent finds from estate sales and flea markets, often artfully upcycled. It could be a new coat of paint or a reupholstering with designer fabric that gives a tired piece — one with good design, though — a second life. To avoid any confusion, while also creating a treasure-hunt feel, yellow tags, as opposed to the blue found on the rest of the merchandise, signify these one-of-a-kind UVO selections.
Those new pieces with personality plus the vintage finds add up, owners say, to recreating that feeling of home, where environments build over time.
As Gerken says, it is a reflection of how people live.
“People want this collected look, (but) they don’t always have the time to find it themselves.”
That’s where PORCH’s design services can be tapped, whether for a simple project such as refreshing a mantel to something more substantial. In addition, the shop has already begun offering shopping events, pop-ups and has plans to collaborate with fellow merchants.
And that bicycle that hang over the register?
“It’s a point of conversation. It has a vintage feel to it. It sparks conversation — and endless offers,” Gerken says, with a laugh.
It’s not for sale, though but rather just another unique element of PORCH.
As Grant says, “We’re trying to keep it interesting and different, not the kind of stuff you see in every other store… worth the trip.”
PORCH Home + Gifts is at 153 E. Main St. in Mount Kisco. For more, visit porch-home.com.