Looking for unique, handmade gifts this holiday season? Jay St. Collective in Schenectady, an indoor, year-round makers’ market, offers quilts, candles, ornaments, glassware and more from 19 local artists and entrepreneurs.
“When you shop here, you’re supporting your community members,” said Jay St. Collective owner Erin Eckler. “Plus, we have so many unique items made by creative and talented people, so it’s a totally different experience than shopping at a bigger store.”
Eckler opened the collective in October at 135 Jay St. following the closing of the Clinton Street Mercantile in Schenectady, where she had been a vendor.
“I was doing really well at Clinton Street and when I found out it was closing, I wanted to keep doing it and other vendors felt that way, too,” the Gloversville resident said. “I also fell in love with the concept of Clinton Street.
Vendors rent the space, so they have the freedom to work another job, and are also able to log their own inventory and establish their own prices. It’s a shop within a shop.”
Vendor Paul Martin, owner of PhD Design, has been selling his printed postcards, silk-screened posters, magnets, glassware and more — featuring Capital Region landmarks such as Union College, General Electric and Nipper — since the collective opened.
“You’re able to introduce new products and switch things up easily,” he said of the collective’s model. “It’s a nice, intimate and well-curated space featuring vendors with different specialties that work well together.”
Martin said this holiday season customers can expect area landmarks such as Schenectady, Niskayuna, historic Stockade doors and the Schenectady Train Station on ornaments and ceramic trivets.
“People take a lot of pride in where they live, so I try to specialize in products that feature that,” he said. “Every vendor at the collective takes pride in their products and we’re thankful to have the opportunity to sell in such a nice space.”
Like Martin, Shelley Burgio, furniture designer and owner of Consider This Furniture, also went from the Clinton Street Mercantile to the Jay St. Collective.
“I was so excited when Erin opened the collective,” Burgio said. “It’s like having my own store but having the ability to set my own schedule and being able to watch it grow. The more I put into it, the more successful it can become.”
Burgio launched her small business in 2009, and started out selling antique glassware and home décor before transitioning into designing furniture three years ago.
“I started doing custom pieces and I learned a lot doing that,” she said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were spending more time at home and started thinking about how they can improve their home, so I had a lot of customers reach out to me.”
In addition to creating custom pieces for customers, Burgio also became an elite retailer for the Dixie Belle Paint Company and now stocks their full chalk mineral and silk paint lines at the Jay St. Collective so that customers can design their own furniture.
“Do it yourself [DIY] is more cost-effective and helps customers change things up,” she said. “Interior design makes people feel good about the space they live in.”
This holiday season, Burgio is featuring holiday-themed jugs, cake-stand table risers and ornaments at the Jay St. Collective.
“Having a place where you shop from a variety of vendors who worked hard to make holiday items is so nice,” she said. “Plus, you’re supporting local while choosing from unique, handmade items.”
Burgio said she hopes the Jay St. Collective becomes the go-to place to shop for gifts.
“It’s such a nice and welcoming atmosphere with a good group of vendors,” she said. “There’s always something new to look at.”
The Niskayuna resident added that Jay Street is a local gem. “I love having an area like Jay Street where you can shop, grab coffee and eat,” she said. “Schenectady has grown so much and there’s always something going on. I hope the collective brings more people to Jay Street and allows other small business owners to grow their business.”
Cheering them on
Helping other small business owners is one of the main missions of the Jay St. Collective, according to Eckler.
“The model is designed to grow small businesses, and that has definitely happened,” she said. “I hope that continues and that vendors are able to grow out of this space and open their own.”
For Eckler, who grew up in Schenectady, choosing to open the shop in the Electric City was easy.
“There’s a creative energy in Schenectady that I haven’t experienced elsewhere,” she said. “People here are so passionate about creativity and there’s always been someone there cheering me on. I love being part of that now and being the one cheering on all of my vendors.”
Moving forward, Eckler is looking to add more vendors to the Jay St. Collective. Other than having an active Instagram account for marketing purposes, she said additional vendor requirements include making quality products and having a team-player attitude.
“It’s important to have someone who is passionate about the collaborative environment we have and who is excited about what everyone else is doing,” she said. “Most people get what we’re trying to do and really appreciate what we’re trying to do. The response has been validating and makes me think that this leap I made was a good idea.”
Throughout December, the Jay St. Collective will have extended holiday hours on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will be open Christmas week Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, call (518) 986-9894 or visit jaystcollective.com.