The Olde Wicker Mill – Entering our 40th Year in Business!
The Olde Wicker Mill opened on April 2, 1979 in an old feed mill on Kellogg Road in Washington Mills. (I didn’t want to open on April 1st because I didn’t want people to think it was an April Fools joke!)
I started out carrying only three wicker companies. All I sold was wicker baskets, accessories and furniture, macrame plant hangers, tables and lamps, plus wall hangings that I made there in the store. Macrame was very popular back then. I slowly added new items that my customers were asking for. As trends changed, so did my product mix. Now we have over 200 companies represented in the store.
My philosophy back in 1979 was the same as today: If you listen to what your customers want and give it to them at a good price, they will buy it and become loyal customers.
In December of 1985 I had my first son David. Of course it was Christmastime and we were too busy to take time off so when he was just 4 days old I started bringing him to work. I had the best of both worlds – I had a business I loved and I could bring my son to work with me. In 1988, I had my second son Brandon. David was 2-1/2 so I started to bring him to daycare and I brought Brandon to work with me. I think I added a whole new meaning to a family business. Customers would stop in to see the boys and if they were sleeping, the customers would stop again later. To this day I have lifelong customers stop in and talk about the old days when the boys would be sitting in a nipnap on the counter or running around the store in their walker. David now runs our Ciceo & Destiny USA locations while Brandon travels between all 3 locations to ensure some continuity between the three stores.
I opened a second store in what used to be The Riverside Mall in North Utica. Operating two stores finally became too much, so in 1993 I made the decision to close the Kellogg Road store and just keep the Mall store. Times were changing. More women were working and they needed extended hours to shop. They weren’t taking the time to make stops in small independent stores – they wanted to go to a mall or center where they could accomplish several things with one stop. I had to change with the times and concentrate my energy where I was most successful.
With the demise of The Riverside Mall, I relocated in Sangertown Square. I was there for almost two years before I was able to secure a space at my present home, The New Hartford Shopping Center. I started out with a 3,500 sq. ft. space and quickly moved to a bigger 6,500 sq. ft. store. When my neighbor Reid-Sheldon retired and closed his doors in 2006 after 150 years in the area, we leased that store, knocked down the walls and more than doubled our space. With Reid-Sheldon closing, there were many product lines that would become available. Nick Sheldon is a retail legend in our area and he was very instrumental in guiding me towards many of the products he carried. Vera Bradley, Swarovski Crystal jewelry and figurines, and Woodstock Windchimes were some of the products he strongly suggested I carry. We made the commitment to carry dozens of his lines and it has proved to be very successful.
After looking for two years for the perfect location in the Syracuse area, I opened my second store in Cicero which my oldest son David now runs. I’m proud to say our reception in the Syracuse area was overwhelming.
Great things are happening this year. Our Loyalty Program was launched and is a huge hit. Plus with both of my sons on board we ventured into a 3rd location in Destiny USA (formally Carousel Center). Destiny USA is currently the 6th largest mall in the country. We are very excited to be a part of this amazing mall right here in Central NY.
After three years at our Destiny Location we decided to close and found a prime new spot in Camillus, NY. It is a great location near west genesee high school. We anchor a small strip center which makes it easily accessible for our customers to park right in front!
I always say, it is a new shopping experience every time you come in. Our philosophy is everything we carry is FUN, FUNCTIONAL AND AFFORDABLE”.
And you know… “If it’s HERE, you know it’s HOT!”