YOUNGSTOWN – The towering shelves of the Dory Trading Post are filled with an eclectic mix – from jewelry to photographs and from driftwood art to books – but the common thread is that nearly everything is created by local artists and authors.
Music fills the air outside this colorful shop at 435 Main St., which Gary Beaty, an artist and one of the shop owners, likens to a snapshot from yesteryear.
“It’s like an old country general store, where people sit and talk and just hang out,” he said.
And, it’s also a place to disseminate local tourism information, he added. The shop sells tickets for Niagara Jet Adventures and kayak rentals (and paddleboard rentals are coming next year), and bicycle rentals are handled here, for those ready to explore the backroads of this picturesque corner of Niagara County. Items such as postcards, pins and flags also are available from Old Fort Niagara and the Town of Porter Historical Association.
Nearly 50 local artists and authors are represented at the store, offering items ranging in price from $1 to $100. They crowd the shelves reaching to the high ceiling in this small, yet airy shop, which is next to the studio of celebrated local sculptor Susan Geissler, overlooking the Niagara River.
The owners do not operate on consignment, so after taking a small percentage to “cover the basics,” profits are returned to the artists, explained “Miss Jane” Price, another owner, along with her husband, Aaron Dey.
“It’s a social time, it’s fun,” said Price.
“We just want to promote this area,” said Dey.
“ … because we love it,” added Price, finishing her husband’s sentence.
“If you want a representation of this area, this is where you come,” Dey said.
Elizabeth Beaty rounds out the foursome that owns and operates the shop, each bringing varied talents and their own perspectives to the collaborative business.
Gary Beaty hails from Missouri and sells his work at the shop, specializing in woodwork and popular pieces made from driftwood culled from local waters. He and Elizabeth, who is from Niagara Falls, have four children and made Youngstown their home nine years ago.
Dey and Price who previously were Toronto residents with a summer home in Youngstown, moved to the village four years ago. Price had worked in marketing and sales for Universal Studios in Orlando, as well as for the corporate offices of Hard Rock Café. Dey also comes from a marketing background and currently serves as vice president of Niagara Jet Adventures and is on the board of Old Fort Niagara.
Price first came up with the idea of resurrecting the shop, at the behest of landlord Rick Lohr and partner Sue McNaughton. McNaughton used to operate The Dory in the village, but shuttered it years ago.
Price enlisted her husband and the Beatys in the effort and they added “trading post” to the name as a nod to the shop’s proximity to historic Old Fort Niagara.
“We saw this huge need in Youngstown for a shop,” recalled Price. “We’re not here to make a living, but to benefit the artists.”
The shop also gives Price and Beaty – and their husbands – a reason to don themed costumes for a variety of occasions, from the upcoming Halloween “party” at the shop to Easter and beyond.
Price said they try to promote any special events planned in the village.
“Elizabeth and I love playing – we love to dress up for any occasion,” she said. “And, since we started doing it, now everyone is doing it.”
Promoting Youngstown is foremost on the shopkeepers’ minds and Dey pointed to a website that he created, historicyoungstown.com, with a spinoff Facebook page with 3,400 “likes.”
A few of the many local creations the shop eagerly showcases, are: paintings (Fay Bailey and Rex Stewart); needlepoint; soy candles; sea salt scrubs (Lindsay Sullivan); nautical–themed objects; authors (Catherine Stack, Gretchen Duling, Suzanne Simon Dietz and Norah Perez); photography (Glenn Clark and Amy Doyle); wooden cutting boards and gadgets (Bruce Newton); handcrafted soaps and historical coasters; notecards (Janet Kraft); and jewelry by a handful of artisans.
“As soon as we opened, word spread word of mouth,” Elizabeth Beaty said. “It’s surprising how many people have art in their back pocket and we tell them, ‘Bring in your work.’ It always sells.”
“And everything (the inventory) is always changing and we are always getting new artists,” Price added.
The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday and closed Mondays, but Price said someone is usually in the shop that day, too. For information, call 217-1799.
Winter hours may see the shopkeepers minding the store from 8 a.m. to noon and returning for the evening, 4 to 9 p.m.