Sister Stores in New Paltz: Cocoon and Verde

Pretty housewares and quirky gifts galore

Cocoon is a lovely, easy-to-miss little shop at the lower end of Main Street in New Paltz. It opened in 2005 selling lamps, china, glassware, clocks, wooden bowls, place mats, and things like that for your home, and evolved to include baby gifts, jewelry, totes, purses — even perfumes (Dead Sexy Number 6 is dead sexy). You’ll also find fun, inexpensive presents like the Cheese Tasting Kit ($16.95), and useful things like composting pails and stainless steel sandwich boxes, which keep your food from getting squashed and eliminate the need for a plastic bag, so they’re planet friendly, too.

A couple of years ago, Cocoon’s owners, Julie Safran and Carlos Ferndandez, launched a sister store called Verde around the corner on North Front Street. It began as the gardening adjunct, selling pots, tools, orchids and such, and smelled wonderful in its early, earthy days. But it turns out that New Paltz residents weren’t buying, so it, too, has evolved and now offers indoor accessories with the same quirky bent as Cocoon.

There’s still a hint of garden, though. For starters, you’ll find good gardening gloves, snazzy wellies, fancy plant markers, and heirloom seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library, whose packaging alone is worth the price of purchase. The gourd nesting boxes are cute, and the ones made of recycled materials will attract stylish birds who prefer that vintage look. Solar string lights are cool and colorful (they gather energy during the day, and glow come sunset). The bigger, individual solar lanterns that look like silk are very stylish for outdoors, and quite stylish for indoors are the Artecnica Starlightz, star-shaped ones made with Florentine-style papers ($36, including the electric bit). I was really taken with the softly illuminated fun faux flowers, particularly the cherry blossom and pussy willow ($32 and up).

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Verde doesn’t smell verdant any more, but it still smells nice, thanks in part to what Safran calls “a fabulous product” — the Lampe Berger, an air purifier invented in 1898 by a Frenchman named Maurice Berger to combat smells in hospital wards. If you visit Lampe Berger’s Web site, you find phrases like this: “Make an on-line personalized olfactory well-being of your home.” But as Safran puts it: “If you’ve got smelly dogs, or you’ve been cooking stinky fish, it’s really great.” The Lampe Berger is essentially a lamp burning either neutral oil or one of several fresh-smelling fragrances. You light the wick and let it burn for just a couple of minutes, then blow out the flame and cap it with a diffuser. The starter kit costs $46 and you can get pretty glass or porcelain containers once you’re hooked. The French Web site mentions overcoming the “stench of bathrooms” (they don’t mince words, those French), so I’m planning to see if Lampe Berger is any match for the dank odor in our cellar this spring. Check out Cocoon and Verde here.

Click through the gallery of images to see some of the items I mentioned above:

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