Pidgin Is a Treasure Trove for Home Goods in Oak Hill

Off the beaten path, a design and antiques store in Oak Hill speaks its own original vernacular.

Stepping inside the store Pidgin in Oak Hill is like going to a design-savvy friend’s home where everything happens to be for sale. Which is a good thing because you won’t want to leave—or leave empty-handed. On every shelf and surface are antiques and objects inviting inspection. You probably didn’t think that you needed a copper jug with perfect patina, a fluffy, chestnut brown sweater, or a bottle of Ionian olive oil, but—heck, yeah—you do.

The scene that owner Kostas Anagnopoulos curates in his store has an appeal that goes beyond the tactile. “Why does it smell so good in here?” asked one recent customer. The answer is the signature scent of Pidgin—traditional copal resin incense from Mexico, made from coniferous trees. And you’re in luck because it too is for sale. “The senses are important to me,” says Anagnopoulos. “I want the store to be a memorable [as well as] visual place.”

With its remote, rural location—a small hamlet surrounded by lush hills and farmland—and surprising mix of products, it is indeed memorable. Opened in October 2020 (pandemic be damned), it reflects Anagnopoulos’ aesthetic, which leans heavily toward the naïve and slightly off-center. The store’s name, Pidgin, means a simplified form of communication, and the wares embrace that no-translation-needed appeal.

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Pidgin owner Kostas Anagnopoulos.
Pidgin owner Kostas Anagnopoulos.

Some of the items are plucked from his own personal collection, aggregated since his Chicago boyhood and summers spent in Greece, where his parents had emigrated from. Objects always caught his eye and found their way into his home. After studying poetry (he’s now a published poet) and meeting his partner, Jesse James, at Bard, he began to put down roots in the Hudson Valley. The couple bought a weekend home upstate and pursued careers in NYC. Together, they founded Aesthetic Movement, a creative consultancy and wholesale representation firm in 2009, but Anagnopoulos harbored the dream of his own retail spot.

Dividing his time between NYC (where the couple and daughter Olympia live in an often-photographed apartment) and a Rennselaerville home, Anagnopoulos learned about a vacant storefront in Oak Hill during the big Covid shutdown. It was a circa-1870s general store with large, made-you-look windows, and the price was right. Urged on by James (who handles Pidgin’s marketing), Anagnopoulos dove in.

“The space needed work, but it was affordable, which was important,” he explains. “Low overhead can free you from buying only things you know will sell. It’s given me the opportunity to surprise myself.” After much renovation, the space became a store with a homey feel, the better to display pieces from Anagnopoulos’ own hoard.

Throughout the shop, expect to find an array of eccentric wares such as one-of-a-kind vintage pillows, mid-century vessels, and Turkish kilims.
Throughout the shop, expect to find an array of eccentric wares such as one-of-a-kind vintage pillows, mid-century vessels, and Turkish kilims.

“I started Pidgin with a lot of things that I had collected, and so the store is a real practice in detachment,” he says. “The harder it is to part with something, the better it feels to me, because I know that object is going to be loved by somebody who ‘gets’ it.”

Anagnopoulos travels the globe on buying trips—to Europe, India, Japan, and elsewhere—to stock the shop with unusual finds.

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In addition, Anagnopoulos travels the globe on buying trips—Europe, India, Japan, and elsewhere—to stock the shop. Among his finds: woven leather trivets, old brass foundry molds, bundles of dried vetiver, Italian desk calendars, soaps, jacquard dresses, pashmina scarves, and socks (one of his favorite items for how they marry utility and beauty). Also unique to Pidgin and among the items that sell out most quickly are tea towels and pillow shams, often made from vintage fabrics, sewn by Anagnopoulos’ mom Angelika, a seamstress.

The unpredictable mix of wares pulls in an interesting array of customers, which is one of Anagnopoulos’ favorite aspects of his work. “I do like having conversations with people and learning about them,” he says. “I feel I’ve gotten so much education from customers throughout my life.” (He’s been known to serve tea or coffee to visitors as they chat.)

Pidgin interior

As rewarding as one-on-one interactions are, Anagnopoulos is getting ready to launch a shoppable website so those who aren’t within driving distance can get a piece of Pidgin. Also in the works: Another store in Oak Hill, focusing on tabletop and what Anagnopoulos calls kitchenalia. The shop will be named Norman Hasselriis, honoring the legacy of the noted assemblage artist who for years used the space as his gallery and workshop. There will be works by Hasselriis on display, through an arrangement with his family. Like Pidgin, this space will likely speak a language that’s a bit unusual and very compelling.

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