During a weekend of college touring, I stayed with family friends who live in the Catskills. On a typical day in the small town of Phoenicia, New York, it’s quiet, unless the annual opera convention happens to be rolling through. In perspective, Main Street Phoenicia looks tiny compared to the immaculate landscape. The whole town almost feels like a secret, tucked within the mountains, waiting for those to reveal its enchantments. None of the stores really fit the cliché essentials of a typical small-town. Instead of a diner there’s Sweet Sue’s, which serves, even in the shortest of stacks, generous portions of fluffy pancakes, in flavors such as peach or raspberry. Next door, there’s Nest Egg, the all-purpose card/fishing gear/pharmacy shop. Across the street there’s even a mini art gallery. But the best store on the Main Street strip is The Mystery Spot.
Homer and Langley’s Mystery Spot has an interesting tale of origin: once upon a time there lived two brothers, Homer and Langley Collyer who were renegade hoarders way before it was televised. Unfortunately, they died by their collections, after being crushed by 136-tons of their accumulations. The owner, Laura Levine was often told this tale as a warning-sign for not cleaning her own room as a child, but little did her mother know that she’d transform that clutter into The Mystery Spot.
Before one even enters the Mystery Door, the entire porch has boxes and racks to sort through, including The $1 Yard Sale In A Box, or, The Mistake Box---filled with things Laura regrets buying for the store.
Inside The Mystery Spot, clutter really is abound, but by way of kitschy kitchenware, records, old magazines and clothing. Here I found an entire basket of gingham gloves---a picnic's dream!
So many candy-colored tops!
I love all of the homemade signs that follow you around the store. In the clothing room there are labels on the “cozy autumn” section and “fancy party” one with doodles to match.
I spent a lot of time in the record room, which seemed to only be selling records that had rad cover sleeve artwork. I will always find some friends in The Beatles. Although it wasn’t going on the weekend I was there, another thing that’s really unusual about The Mystery Spot, is that they hold an annual concert series on their front porch. Artists sometimes are even asked to write Mystery-Spot inspired songs to perform. If only The Beatles had known about The Mystery Spot...
The Mystery Spot is located at 72 Main Street, Phoenicia, New York, 12464, 845-688-7868.
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