If you happen to be in New York City, take a look around a charming little gift shop on the Upper West Side and you’ll find among the stock work by a handful of Vineyarders and former Vineyarders.
Sylvia Parker, owner of the store Magpie, opened the shop two years ago with the idea of offering eco-friendly, fair trade, and handcrafted items. Last year, Kyle Carson of Martha’s Vineyard became part of Ms. Parker’s life and while he has relocated to New York to help out with the store and sell his reclaimed wood furniture, she has brought a bit of the Vineyard to New York with finds from Island artists and artisans.
The small Amsterdam Avenue shop offers an eclectic array of cards and gifts for women, men, and children, all of which are locally made, handcrafted, vintage, fair trade, sustainably made, and/or organic. According to the shop’s website, “At Magpie, you can find just the right gift for family or friends while also supporting smaller, independent craftspeople and companies that produce beautiful goods in an ethical, sustainable way.”
Among Vineyard-based offerings at the shop are colorful fish paintings in handcrafted frames by Alejandro Carreno, and former Vineyarder Emily Trower-Young’s line of organic skin care products, Sustainable Shanti. The latest addition to Ms. Parker’s list of artisans is Vineyard jeweler Stefanie Wolf, who crafts unique pieces from beads imported from around the world. Ms. Wolf’s jewelry can be found in a number of stores and museum shops around the country, as well as at her studio in Oak Bluffs and C.B. Stark in Vineyard Haven. Her lovely bracelets, earrings, and necklaces made from colorful Czech glass beads have quickly become a very popular item at Magpie.
Mr. Carreno and Ms. Wolf are both regular vendors at the Vineyard Artisans Festivals, which is where Mr. Carson discovered their work. Mr. Carson sold his handcrafted furniture there for five years before moving to New York. His tables, cabinets, hanging shelves, and other pieces are inventive and rustic yet contemporary.
A former contractor, Mr. Carson began crafting furniture when he acquired off cuts from a small sawmill that previously operated in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest on Martha’s Vineyard. “I knew the guy who had the sawmill and I found the wood sitting there getting weathered and beautiful.” The wood is from red pine trees that were once planted in the forest but were not able to survive local conditions. The wood from trees that either fell or had to be taken down is full of holes from bark beetles giving it lots of texture and character. He often combines the red pine with pieces of driftwood.
Since moving to New York, Mr. Carson has brought his reclaiming mission to the city, using driftwood — including old pieces from piers and pilings — gathered along the Hudson River. Mr. Carson also incorporates street finds into his projects. Two unusual coffee tables feature large curved tops with corrugated edges — pieces found discarded on an Upper West Side street. His pieces range from $200 for a large mirror to $400 for a complete sink unit.
The items from the Vineyard artists are a perfect fit for the tiny shop full of very stylish, unique, and fun items — ranging from vegan “leather bags” and gorgeous hand-woven scarves to jewelry and baskets made in South Africa with recycled telephone wire, to raw chocolates and toffees made by small Brooklyn-based confectioners. Magpie carries a selection of gifts for men as well as an assortment of retro and design-oriented items for kids and babies.
Ms. Parker honed her curatorial skills working as a buyer for the gift shops of New York’s American Folk Art Museum (when it was still on 53rd Street across from the Museum of Modern Art) and the South Street Seaport, before finally realizing her dream of opening a shop in her Upper West Side neighborhood. Magpie is located on a quaint block of independent restaurants and bars, a little off the beaten path. The shop is lovely and inviting and features eco-friendly design elements like no-fume paints and bamboo shelves.
Ms. Parker has attracted a loyal following and enjoys chatting with regulars and meeting new people. And Vineyarders often stop in to say hello.
“It’s been wonderful having a neighborhood shop,” Ms. Parker said. “I love having beautiful things and supporting artists. I’ve got regular customers who have really reached out and supported the shop. It’s very different from the museum, which was mainly tourists. I really feel the store is part of the whole community.”
For more information, visit magpienewyork.com or call 646-998-3002.