State Land Supply Co is a dry goods, general mercantile and antiques shop in Upstate New York. This is the most recent venture of veteran vintage picker, Denny Brownell, which opened earlier this year in the hamlet of Mountain Dale. He has masterfully styled the shop creating a beautiful environment rich in history and visual vignettes. Denny shares his story and journey as a shopkeeper.
When was State Land Supply Co. founded? In 2014 I began as a featured vender at the Phoenicia Flea. Back then, I’d operate as The Brew & Compass, highlighting my love of New York State travel. It feels like eons ago, but that was when I had a travel and tourism website called Escape Brooklyn. We’d leave NYC and highlight beautiful properties for travelers in upstate New York and beyond. My favorites were always the historic buildings, the off-the-grid cabins, and the restored sites with vintage and antique interiors.
After a few successful seasons at the market, a divorce, and a resignation from the travel company I founded, I changed the name of the business to State Land Vintage with my best friend and business partner Missy. Later it would evolve into State Land Supply Co. Maybe it’s not so linear, but creativity and solid brand-development doesn’t happen in a straight line..nothing really does.
How would you describe State Land Supply Co.? American heritage antiques, vintage clothing, made in the USA dry goods, design and build services. From the outside looking in—straight Americana.
What motivated you to open a shop? I opened my first shop in 2000 in Phoenix, Arizona which specialized in mostly vintage clothing. For the past 20 years, I’ve been buying and selling in some way or another; last year my best friend pushed me to open up a small shop in Roscoe. Together, we created what State Land is today.
Did you have prior retail experience? I’ve been working retail on and off for the past 25 years. Most of my experience stems from the clothing business. I’ve been selling denim and or vintage clothing for as long as I can remember. Aside from having my own shops, I’ve worked for, or purchased for Buffalo Exchange, Jean Shop, What Goes Around Comes Around and Ralph Lauren RRL, just to name a few.
Why did you chose the name “State Land Supply Co”? Missy and I were at The Elephant Trunk Flea Market early one Sunday searching the field for vintage treasures when we came across a original STATE LAND trail sign. At first, we passed on the sign; we got about 20 feet away and turned back and bought it. A couple months later, while trying to come up with a new business name, we remembered the sign. “Why not just call it STATE LAND?” said Missy. The rest is history.
Who designed the shop? I came up with the concept and designed the shop based on my love for all that is old and weathered. I’m a one trick pony.. I do what I know and love.
What is State Land Supply Co. famous for? Not really famous for anything, but we do sell a lot of old American flags, vintage clothing, textiles and industrial lighting.
Where do you source your products? We’re always combing through auctions, estate sales, old barns, basements and flea markets looking for one of a kind antiques and vintage clothing.
Who are your customers? Locals and travelers alike. We see a lot of first and second home owners that want something special for their new home. Collectors, vintage clothing dealers & designers are here for period-specific pieces or unique/rare vintage items in spectacular to totally destroyed condition. We even have kids coming in for a small vintage candy selection.
Denny Brownell, Shopkeeper at State Land Supply Co.
Who inspires you? All the old timers who have been doing this for 30 years before I was born. They are the real fucking deal. When a person turns down 5k for an old sign and says “I don’t need the money.. I want to keep it!” thats who I want to be someday. I also dont want the fame or glory.. I dont do this for me.. I do it for the people who walk through our doors.
What inspires you? The beautiful Catskill Mountains, nature, animals, history, story tellers. hobos.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. Ahhh where to start. I’ve worked in the music industry as a touring DJ, booked bands in the LES, renovated a roadside motel and tavern, managed coffee and retail shops. I once worked at a calendar factory..
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? Patience. Maybe that when it feels overwhelming and that you can’t do it, you need more, you need help—all of those things aren’t true if you can breathe through it and find the strength within yourself. A lot of patience is just taking some time to breathe while you empty the doubt from your head. I wasn’t so good at that.
What task do you like to delegate? Anything back of house. I love to be out in the field or at shows trying to find new goods for the shop.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? Patience. Maybe I still haven’t learned it. Nope, I definitely haven’t learned that yet, but I’m trying.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Do what you love and love what you do. Work within your means. You don’t need more than what you have. Be grateful for what you have. And yes, you work 8 days a week.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Kris Kristofferson… on a Sunday.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? Buying and collecting for myself. Making cider. Taking photos. Opening a motel…wait..
What is your perfect day off? Waking up before dawn, watching the fog roll in off the mountains, drinking light coffee, driving with the windows down listening to Charlie Parr on my way to auction in some small town. Returning home to make a vegan dinner and drinking a bottle or two of homemade cider or natty wine. Probably mending an old pair of jeans or shirt at some point. Playing with my two cats Cowboy & Bandit. Saying goodnight.
Can you share your favorite shops? State Park Vintage, Roscoe, NY; Maison Bergogne, Narrowsburg, NY; Front General, Brooklyn, NY; Wooden Sleepers, Brooklyn, NY; Kabinett & Kammer, Andes, NY; and Upstate Stock, Brooklyn.
I wish I could… Further down the road I’d like to expand the shop, open other locations, work on more design/ build projects, buy a 100 year old log cabin in the woods and plant some apple trees. Make a family.
6 Main Street, Mountain Dale, New York
Photography: Harrison Lubin @heflpop