I was planning a dinner party a few years ago and needed more plates and forks and knives and…basically everything. A friend recommended Fishs Eddy, a name I recognized because it was so weird but one attached to a place I knew nothing about.
Fishs Eddy is a hamlet in the town of Hancock, New York, about a two-hour drive out of the city along the border of Pennsylvania. Julie Gaines and her husband Dave Lenovitz came across this name, thought it interesting, and borrowed it for their new store in 1986. A couple dozen years later, this magpie-like habit has hardly changed.
The company’s shopping bags call them “purveyors of sturdyware.” They specialize in heavyweight ceramics; thick, off-white plates and bowls in infinite patterns are stacked all over the store, anywhere they’ll fit. Most of their pieces are produced exclusively for the brand at this point but it’s all a tribute to their origins. Fishs Eddy started out collecting and reselling discarded diner stock from anywhere the couple could find it, driving their truck throughout upstate New York. Even now there is an impressive collection of vintage china for sale.
Another tradition from their vintage days: every piece is sold individually. Do you need four dinner plates, three wine glasses, two saucers, and a steak knife? You got it. And the classic style and trend-averse nature of their inventory means that if you break one piece in a year, you can probably replace it easily.
The store has a certain country kitchen vibe: unfinished wood and wrought iron, barrels overflowing with little teacups, like a barn full of cermaics was plucked from the Catskills and dropped near Union Square. It works well. The bright colors, witty signage, and mid-century rock and roll makes this the happiest store I’ve visited in a while. Every detail put a dumb smile on my face, and everyone around me shared my expression. The associates’s acknowledgements (“Are you finding everything okay?”) may as well have been “Can you believe this place!?”
I should note that Fishs Eddy carries more than just sturdyware. There is the hotel collection, suitable for the daintiest room service, as well as fine glassware, every kitchen tool you could possibly need, and plenty of original and exclusive designer collections ranging from pleasant geometry to New Yorker heritage to goofy jokes.
I could continue, but trying to list what one might find in this store is a futile task. I spent a while walking in circles, trying to take it all in, and even on the third and fourth times I approached the same display, I found something new. Even seeing the same polka-dotted glassware over and over was delightful, just because the pieces looked so happy to be here.
Three years after that dinner party recommendation, half my kitchen is from Fishs Eddy, including most of my bar tools. This most recent trip added some new rocks glasses to my collection. It’s probably possible to walk out of this place empty-handed, but why would you want to?