25th Anniversary – A Walk Down Memory Lane with The Whistling Elk

It’s hard to believe that 25 years ago just about this time I was collecting merchandise in my garage in preparation to taking possession of my first shop location in Chester  on May 1st, 1990.  It has been a wonderful 25 years and I have hundreds of photos taken of the shop over the years.  So take a walk with me down M.E.M.O.R.Y.  L.A.N.E…

The first home of The Whistling Elk was at 9 Main Street, Chester.  I hung a lace ceiling in this shop…it had a really ugly ceiling and the lace really improved it but I still had to cut holes in the lace for the air conditioning vent… It was a small shop just three rooms in 800 square feet.  In those early days I remember that we sold a huge amount of silk flowers and vines.

The Whistling Elk

A Customer and I standing in the front room of the shop at 9 Main Street, Chester NJ in the early 90s.

Sadly, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the 9 Main Street Shop – this was before cell phone cameras…gosh I didn’t even have a computer then!!  This location had two entire walls of windows…no where to hang anything…hmmm that must have been tough for me!

Here’s a few more shots of The Whistling Elk at 9 Main Street.

Chester NJ

Looking out toward Main Street in the first Whistling Elk location at 9 Main Street

Chester NJ

The Whistling Elk 25 years ago

Below is a shot taken at a Showhouse that we were invited to participate in – early 90’s.  We painted Adirondack chairs for the pool area which was surrounded by a beautiful garden of rhododedrons…the chairs were painted a light blue to reflect the blue of the pool and had beautiful purple rhododendrons painted across the backs.  It was a pretty effect!

The Whistling Elk

Showhouse in Clinton – Pair of Adirondack Chairs Painted for the Pool Area

Two years after I opened The Whistling Elk 44 Main Street became available and I was able to secure that wonderful location.  44 Main Street was about double the size of the 9 Main Street shop.  This move entailed moving about 60 feet from the end of Main Street closer to the center of town.

I remember selling an iron canopy bed because someone drove by as we were walking the headboard down the street to the new shop.  We were selling a tremendous number of beautiful hand wrought iron beds at the time.  The iron beds were probably among the first larger pieces of furniture sold at The Whistling Elk.

Here’s a shot of the front of the 44 Main Street shop.  On this particular evening in 2009 we were hosting our Charity Evening.

The Whistling Elk

We rolled out the red carpet for the 2009 Charity Event

The Whistling Elk

our mantel at 44 main street decorated for Christmas 2009

 I remained at 44 Main Street for 21 years – it changed sizes a couple of times over that period going from 1800 to 3000 square feet.  During that time we sold oh-so-many furniture lines along with accessories, artwork and mirrors and lighting.  Many lines we still sell today.  Sadly,  some important vendors were lost due to the recession over the last 6 years.  We are always adding new lines though so things are never dull at The Whistling Elk!

We have participated in many showhouses over the years…here’s a Showhouse photo taken sometime in the 90’s at a showhouse  in Chester.  The room was a garden room..I think it was called “Holiday in Paradise”…as I recall the event was in December.

I used a mop and a bucket of watered down green paint to swab the walls of this room…I was going for a watered silk look.  The walls had cracks all over and I didn’t want to repair them so I used a feather to enhance and make them look like cracked marble.  This was my second showhouse but it was the first time I did a whole room.

I regret that I have no pictures of the beautiful showhouse that I did with Patty Fastook a few years later called Brookwood…in Montclair.  It was a spectacular room but somehow I lost the disk that housed the photos…*sigh*

Showhouse Chester NJ

A Showhouse on Main Street in Chester….I remember this was a garden room with a lovely fireplace…it was cozy and very pretty.

Here are some shots of some of the beautiful merchandise that flowed through the shop over the last 25 years….

sofas and upholstery at The Whistling Elk

JM Paquet Sofa and Ottoman 2005 – Sadly this company went out of business in 2008…I carried them for many years and they made the most beautiful sofas!

elegant home furnishings and accessories

This was another JMPaquet sofa….used in a styling photo for advertising the Elk…We still carry many of the merchandise lines shown in this photo from the year 2000.

The Whistling Elk, Chester NJ

This was one of several Showhouses that we have participated in over the last 25 years! This room was titled “My Sister’s Bedroom and the showhouse was in Lafayette, NJ.

The Whistling Elk Chester NJ

Vanity in “My Sister’s Bedroom” at the Lafayette Showhouse….one of several showhouses we participated in over the years.

The Whistling Elk, Chester NJ

This is the bedroom at 44 Main Street…the walls were the most beautiful shade of purple called “Bonne Nuit” or Good Night….we always had gorgeous bedding at the shop and still do!

and by contrast here is the bedroom at 50 Main Street Today!

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Below…our custom cabinetry model….a beautiful bookcase over cabinets with slider to hide the TV…we moved this piece from 44 Main Street and had it re-built into the 50 Main Street shop.

Custom Cabinetry at The Whistling Elk

Hancock & Moore Sofa and in the background our custom built in bookcase over cabinets. We have built  many custom pieces for customers over the years.

We had a lot of room at the 44 Main Street location so we had up to 9 sofas on the shop floor all the time…this is a beautiful Hancock and Moore sofa…and it looks beautiful in front the model of our custom cabinetry.  We still carry Hancock and Moore and Caracole sofas today although it is definitely harder to display them!  We are still creating beautiful custom bookcases and furniture for our customers today also.

Textillery Weavers at The Whistling Elk

Another gorgeous, made in America, sofa by hancock & moore…and a gorgeous Textillery throw…still carried today.

The Whistling Elk, Chester NJ

A beautiful Habersham buffet and the carpet is Loloi….gorgeous.

Ah! and PARIS…who could forget our fabulous shopping trip to Paris and Les Puces de St. Ouen….we brought back so many beautiful pieces for the shop!

I still dream about all the beautiful items we had to leave behind at the Paris Flea Markets because there just wasn’t a container large enough (or a wallet for that matter) to bring them all back to the shop…

Imported Photos 00022 Imported Photos 00078

The Whistling Elk

Early 19th Century Bronze Sconce – I brought back a pair of these from the Paris Flea Market

Then a little more than 2 years ago we moved again!  This time the move was about 20 feet into the building right next to our old location at 44 Main Street.

I feel very blessed that I still see customers today at the 50 Main Street location  who started shopping The Whistling Elk at the 9 Main Street store 25 years ago!!

Wow, that amazes me and I am so appreciative for the support of the community and also the whole state…and beyond!  Customers come from all over New Jersey as well as from New York, Pennsylvania and as far as California & Europe!  It even seems when people move they don’t forget you – they stop by and shop when they are back visiting…even when they have left the country!

Here are some shots of the 50 Main Street Location of The Whistling Elk…and I am not moving again!

Home decor and furnishings

The Whistliing Elk Chester NJ

You will still find lots and lots of amazing home accessories at the 50 Main Street shop!

The Whistling Elk, Chester NJ

A shot of 50 Main Street around Jan. 2013…

We still carry sofas….the Caracole line is one of our favorites with great quality and fair prices – although we don’t always have room on the shop floor for one.  This was one that we did squeeze in!

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Chester NJ furniture

Home Accessories at The Whistling Elk

The Whistling Elk

Jan 2013 – Just moved into 50 Main Street…

Artwork at The Whistling Elk

Lady in Red

La Vie Parisienne Jewelry

Spring flowers, Jewelry, Lovely Art

Artwork, Mirrors & Clocks

Artwork, Mirrors & Clocks

Over the years many merchandise lines have come and gone.  There are some some products that we have carried for a very long time.  Like Kennebunk Weavers (our famous throw blankets) – 25 years!  and Mark Roberts Fairies – 20 years and Lampe Berger – 17 years!  We still love them today!

chester nj

The Whistling
Elk Home Furnishings stocks beautiful throws

Lampe Berger at The Whistling Elk in Chester NJ

Lampe Berger at The Whistling Elk in Chester NJ

The Whistling Elk

Mark Roberts Peace on Earth Fairy – I think he is my all time favorite!

Our Paint Couture!™ line of furniture and cabinet paints and glazes is new for us…and have been a wonderful addition to The Whistling Elk along with our Paint Workshops.  Painted furniture though is something that has always graced the shop floor at The Whistling Elk…we were painting back in the 90’s when we opened!

Paint workshops

Paint Couture Products at The Whistling Elk in Chester NJ

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I am also humbled by the 2007 Award the shop received – “one of 50 Stellar Stores – Nationwide from Home Accents Today Magazine.  That was an honor I never saw coming but it was sweet.  Here’s the link 50 Stellar Stores Nationwide in 2007      –  Here’s a little bit about that from the press release at the time…

“CHESTER SHOP NAMED ONE OF TOP 50 RETAIL STORES

Chester, New Jersey – The Whistling Elk has been named one of Home Accents Today’s “50 Retail Stars” by editors of the premier trade magazine for the home accents industry. The Retail Stars List recognizes enterprising home accents retailers who are experiencing success in their respective markets with innovative strategies and creative merchandising while maintaining a strong presence in their communities.”

Very cool for The Whistling Elk!!  One of my prouder moments!!

One thing is for sure…you will always find casual elegance at The Whistling Elk – It is interesting to me that in all this time I have never really changed my focus which was to provide “…distinctively different home furnishings and accessories…with an elegant European flair.”

Expect More of the Same Going Forward

and

Thank You So Much for 25 Wonderful Years!

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2 Responses to 25th Anniversary – A Walk Down Memory Lane with The Whistling Elk

  1. Lyn Krawiec says:

    I enjoyed reading the history of your store. You are so talented, Barb, and I am so happy to be a customer in your elegant shop.

    Always, Lyn Krawiec

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