Gina Hyams Author

Category Archives: glasses

Interview with Kaarin “Pook” Lemstrom-Sheedy of pookstyle gift shop in Chatham, New York

p o o k s t y l e at 2 Park Row in  Chatham, New York, is one of the most charming gift shops around. It’s owned by Kaarin “Pook” Lemstrom-Sheedy, a veteran bookstore and museum shop retailer, who shares space with Park Row Gallery & Framing. She says she’s having the time of her life with the shop and her joy shines through in the gifts she stocks. 

Kaarin “Pook” Lemstrom-Sheedy

Prior to launching p o o k s t y l e in 2010,  Kaarin managed the iconic Scribner Bookstore and Barnes & Noble 128 Fifth Avenue Sales Annex in Manhattan, and she designed and ran museum gift shops at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MASS MoCA, the Mount, and Hancock Shaker Village.

Gina: What defines p o o k s t y l e?

Kaarin: Clean, modern designs from the U.S. and around the world, with a pinch of humor and a dash of whimsy thrown in for good measure. “Pook” is the name my father gave me as a baby, and prior to opening p o o k s t y l e, the only people who called me by that name were my family and very oldest and closest friends, so I had to think carefully about releasing it into the world. Happily, it has been a very pleasant and good experience. I’ve met many other pooks and pookies—both two and four legged! Customers usually ask if they can call me pook once they know what it means, and I always say yes!

My shop has been described (by Rural Intelligence) as a “museum store without a museum” and I think that’s quite fitting; it seems my roots are showing. One of my guiding philosophies, a holdover from my museum years, is the desire to offer “something for everyone” and I therefore have a fairly broad range of price points—everything from a $300 Japanese copper teapot to a “folding ruler” for $6.

p o o k s t y l e offers things that I love, like, and/or believe in. My hope is that others will share my enthusiasms, and so far, anyway, so good! I should also add that at the shop’s core, shoppers will find many Scandinavian products. This “flavor” comes from my childhood in Amesbury, Massachusetts—my Dad was a Finn and my Mom an Olson, so growing up, there were many Scandinavian things in our home.

Gina: What makes a great gift?

Kaarin: Something that the giver feels good about giving—whether it’s because they know it’s just the right fit for the recipient, or because it’s something they have discovered and feel delighted and excited about personally and can then pass that delight along in the giving. 

Gina: What are your thoughts on fun hostess/host gifts?

Kaarin: Things that are attractive, maybe a little out of the ordinary, but also useful. For example, I carry a wonderful line of felt coasters from DAFF of Germany, in a whole range of fabulous colors. I encourage my customers to mix and match—have a little fun and at the same time customize and personalize the gift for your recipient. I carry at all times a variety of delicious Swedish jams—gooseberry, lingonberry, black currant. Always a lovely and tasty offering—and again, most useful. 

Gina: What’s the best gift anyone ever gave you?

Kaarin: When my now husband, then boyfriend, Bob, and I were dating, he gave me a flute one Christmas, something that had been on my Xmas list—along with a harpsichord (hey, a girl could dream!) —for many years. I believe it was a little beyond my parents means to buy me either one, much as they would have liked to, so when I opened that gift on Christmas Day, with my family all around me, my mother and I began to cry! My Mom later said that was when she knew that Bob was the “one for me.” 43 years later (41 wed, 2 dating), I’d say she had it right.

A walk around the shop with Kaarin…

Kaarin: These are Swedish mini Shea butter soaps: lingonberry (lingon), blueberry (blabar), and  cloudberry (hjortron) and Swedish egg white facial soap. I’m very fussy about smells, but I love the fresh, light scent of these Swedish bars. I’ve been giving the egg white facial bar to an 89-year-old friend of my late Mom’s for years, and she swears that it works wonders on her aged skin! Great stocking stuffers, all. 

Kaarin: I love the whimsical design of the B clock—the “B” theme as in bees, birds, and bunnies, the element of surprise when customers realize that it is made of lightweight recycled cardboard. It’s elegance created from everyday, humble materials—love that formula! 

Kaarin: p o o k s t y l e features an ever changing selection of used and rare design books pulled from sister store, Berkshire Books (which my husband Bob helms, and which is located right around the corner at 2 Park Row), as well as one-of-a-kind, unusual, hand-selected titles sprinkled throughout the shop.

Kaarin: A Cabinet of Curiosities at p o o k s t y l e includes rolls of colored cotton string, footed ceramic vessels by Cape Cod potter Frances Kate Johnson, tiny glass vases, angel ornaments from Denmark, red and white Yule candles from Sweden, and felt Moomim purses. On the counter are bundles of the most wonderful, longest-lasting white taper candles from Sweden (which are a p o o k s t y l e staple).

Kaarin: As long as there’s a p o o k s t y l e, there will be rubber stamps and art supplies! This is a terrific new Year of Holidays Stamp Carving Kit from Yellow Owl Workshop, creators and champions of clever rubber stamps of all kinds. There are also handsomely boxed brass key rings from Areaware (old keys being another p o o k s t y l e passion). Color Appeel crayons, ridiculously awesome crayon sticks with fun peel-to-reveal action. The Tea Towel Stencil Kits include two blank 100% cotton tea towels, drawing stencils, and fabric markers. Choose either the veggie or cat motif and have a ball creating your one-of-a-kind tea towel masterpieces! 

Kaarin: A typical p o o k s t y l e mix of fun and whimsical gifts: Melamine portrait plates from London’s National Gallery, classic folding Swedish ruler, brightly colored fabric watches, rubber stamp kits, ink stamp pads in a wide variety of colors, Sturdy cork coasters: choose from We Heart Canada, Chickadee, Snow Shoes. Boxed Cubeots (“a wooden puzzle with a playful personality”).

Kaarin: Here are soft lamb’s wool throws in pink and grey from Klippan, Sweden and a round, ingeniously designed scarf hanger from Japan. The cheerfully colored plastic bins were originally designed as baskets for marketing (veggies in particular stay fresh and intact), but there are any number of uses for these sturdy, light weight containers. I use mine as an elegant guest room wastebasket! 

Kaarin: A delightful tiny village contained in a matchbox. Made in the Netherlands, the 17 wooden pieces can be arranged in endless combinations. A sweet, diminutive stocking stuffer! 

Kaarin: In keeping with my “something for everyone” philosophy, p o o k s t y l e carries a selection of playful and unusual jewelry in a variety of price points. Fun, affordable readers fly out of the store. Available in four different color combinations, many customers buy one of every color and then place them throughout the house, ever at the ready!

Kaarin: These beautiful dreamcatchers are made from vintage Canadian laces. No two alike and they’re available in two sizes. Sweet dreams nearly certain.

Introducing My New Glasses

My New Glasses

Thanks again to everyone who voted on my new glasses. I like ’em. This photo doesn’t quite capture the colors–translucent magenta and lime green. They’re made by a French company called Traction, whose design mission is to “combine Californian modernity and French refinement.” There you have it.

Please Help Me Shop For Glasses

My eyesight is deteriorating yet more and my family never really warmed to my current frames, so it seems to me that new glasses are in order. Do the royal we have anything to say about these four pair (kindly borrowed from Cyril & Dayne, so that Dave and Annalena can weigh in on them at home tonight)?

Contestant Number One

Contestant Number Two

Contestant Number Three

Contestant Number Four

Second Guessing My Glasses

Glasses Under Consideration – View 1
Glasses Under Consideration – View 2
Current Glasses

I know there are more important things to worry about in the world, but what do you think of this other pair of glasses? I See GB let me bring them home to show Dave and he’s not home yet. I brought a friend into the shop this afternoon for a second opinion and she said she liked my current pair better. She thought the other ones look the same only more boring. I still think they might be better, though — less severe, more subtle in their charm. They are also on sale…just $99…but my new progressive lens prescription is expensive, so if you’re not impressed with them, please speak up.

New Year, New Glasses

First things first: Here’s a photo of me in my new glasses. They were designed by Frenchman Cyril Dray of I See GB in Great Barrington and manufactured by Zip+Homme in Japan. I’ve been wearing them for a couple of weeks now and like them very much, even if they’re not magic like my much-lamented former green pair.

My family didn’t warm to them until we toured the Sol LeWitt wall drawing retrospective at MASS MoCA. We were taking in LeWitt’s middle period work, the drawings with the softer geometry and vibrant, not yet screaming color, and Annalena turned to me and said, “You know Mom, your glasses are starting to grow on me.” Dave looked around the gallery, “Yes, they make sense here.”

They seem to be preaching to the choir of good glasses lovers glasses rather than ones that promote world peace by uniting all of humanity with their mystical rightness. So be it. I’m grateful that I can see and that my little New England town is home to such an excellent eyewear shop.

I’m in professional limbo at the moment, having recently drafted a proposal for a new publishing project and waiting to hear what my agent thinks of it. I hate waiting, but love being at a beginning again.

I want to keep the sense of uncharted territory and freshness going with this blog as it enters year two. The more people read my blog (8859 visitors in ’08), the harder it becomes to stay loose with it, but that’s the key.

And since this is my blog where nobody’s the boss of me except me and, as many editors have noticed, I don’t care much about formal transitions…

Dave and I met on January 3, 1989 at New Langton Arts in San Francisco and moved in together three weeks later. I remember telling a friend at the time that our blazing romance was “not trivial.” Here we are 20 years down the road. It’s a miracle and a mystery.

My heart goes out to Ericka Lutz, whose marriage in many ways seems to have mirrored my own. Her husband, Bill Sonnenschein, died unexpectedly over the holidays and she wrote this incredible blog post about it. I don’t know how she found the strength and clarity to write it…except that I do…words are solace.

R.I.P. Lucky Green Glasses

My glasses frames sprouted an irreparable crack over the weekend. I called Dave from the Petco parking lot in Pittsfield to report the sad news. He tried to comfort me with “honey, you are more than your glasses,” but I wasn’t so sure. These weren’t just any glasses. They were the best glasses in the history of glasses, or at least the history of my face and glasses.

I found them at Next Eyewear on College Avenue in Oakland six or seven years ago. As I recall, I didn’t really need new glasses at the time and I was broke as usual, but when I tried them on, there was something so extraordinarily right about them, so me only better best self about them, that I whipped out my credit card with the justification: no one will deny me if I’m wearing these glasses…which actually more or less proved true, plus they generated an incredible amount of good will and conversation.

Literally hundreds of strangers, from all walks of life and of all races, thought enough of my glasses to stop me on the street or on the bus or in the spa locker room to compliment me about them. Society matrons. Homeless men. Hip baristas from coast to coast. These glasses helped me learn to graciously accept a compliment. I’d smile like I’d never heard it before, look the person in the eye, and offer a sincere thank you in return.

It’s hard to say what exactly made these glasses compelling to such a wide range of people. All I know about their origin is that they were French and one of a kind. There’s no label on the frames. I just sent the above photo to Next Eyewear hoping that someone there will recognize the designer.

The glasses were subtly spectacular. They did a slow burn. When they caught people’s attention, the design somehow made them look closer. The liquid green pattern, the not quite cat’s eye shape, and the flirty black rhinestones combined with the feng shui of my face in a mysterious way that compelled people to talk to me.

I’m not a particularly fashionable or put-together person and sometimes the compliments felt like compassion…like the people thought: damn that geeky girl got something right, let’s prop her up and celebrate.

These glasses let me walk into any room and know that even though I might not be the smartest or the prettiest or the best writer or the most patient mother, odds were I’d have the best glasses. I will miss that power.

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