QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new storefront on Upper Glen Street is just getting used to life facing a busy street – but it’s far from the first move the rising local business has made.
Stone Stash co-owner Steven Pugh estimates that the business he started with two friends in 2017 has moved about twice per year; 10 times in all, between relocations and minor expansions.
“There wasn’t room for more than one person behind the counter,” Pugh said of the Stone Stash’s first home, in a 100-square-foot space in the Glens Falls Shirt Factory. “And that counter was a 5-foot glass case.”
Pugh recounted the business’ path from a very different storefront; 4,000 square feet of space, split into four rooms and plenty of space for him and co-owners Tyler and Ashley Poquette to sell the hand-dug, hand-cut stones they offer customers in all shapes and sizes.
Those range from wire-wrapped pendants that Pugh hand-crafts, to halved geodes, now cut in the back workshop room. Many of them are from the area; Pugh and the Poquettes mine regularly in areas like the southwest Herkimer Diamond Mines.
When you’re dealing in stones, inventory takes up a lot of room.
“Each of us had one day we were there,” Ashley Poquette described. “If all three of us were there, the store was full.”
Before getting a proper storefront, the business was first born in one co-owner’s family’s house. The first move of all was from there to another, and the second was finally to the Glens Falls Shirt Factory, an arts complex that plays host to dozens of small stores and studios.
The Stone Stash has since tried just about every size of space the Shirt Factory has on for size.
A few months after opening, the shop upgraded to 450 square feet next door. Pugh remembers when his entire jewelry bench space was one of the black shelf units that now stand three across with space to spare in the Glen Street building.
“I couldn’t move in my chair.”
Then they opened a storeroom and workshop space in the Shirt Factory basement; first a 200-square-foot room, then an 800-square-foot one.
Now, the Stone Stash has an additional 3,000-square-foot warehouse out back, just for storage. The Shirt Factory basement spaces balanced storage and some of the stonecutting that now has its own room.
Eventually, they moved to an even larger Shirt Factory storefront, then got to reimagine it by knocking down a wall. That got them up to 1,000 square feet, which Pugh remembers as a turning point.
“Up until then, this all still felt like a hobby,” he said. “Even though we were open five days a week.”
It was also around then, in late 2018, that he and Tyler Poquette were able to quit their other jobs and focus on the Stash as a full-time source of income.
“We started getting a name for ourselves, too. There’s not really other crystal stores in the area.”
Despite having been around since the beginning, it was just this last April that it was Ashley Poquette’s turn to quit her other job and go full-time at the store.
Despite that recency, she says she’s taken some lessons from seeing the small business grow exponentially, in size and scope, over less than five years.
“I think the most important thing is to keep learning. Always be ready for the next thing.”
At the Stone Stash’s new home, one “next thing” is a curtained-off blacklight room, showcasing the otherworldly glow some of the stones can take on under the right light.
Another new development is just outside that room. In the past, the Stone Stash has always kept reading materials on-hand, about stones, digging and more.
Now, there’s a reading room where customers can learn for themselves.
The front two rooms are a 2,000-square-foot version of what Pugh and the Poquettes have been doing all along – showing off stones.
Pugh said that the business has flourished in part because more and more people are finding value in more unique stones; whether they come from the downstate Herkimer mines, or somewhere on the other side of the globe.
He’s wire-wrapped wedding rings for regular customers, who chose local rocks he himself dug out of the ground. The Poquettes wear wedding rings with stones straight out of Herkimer.
“It’s been over 100 years since people started buying diamond rings as engagement rings, and now people are realizing they’re not rare,” Pugh said. “And now more people are becoming interested in a more unique, intention-filled ring.”
And the customer base is happy to come somewhere new. Although the Shirt Factory was a good home to the business, several times over, the stash outgrew the factory, and needed its own, clear identity.
“There were times when I would get calls from customers like, ‘Hey, I’m on the third floor of this building, where are you guys,'” Pugh recounted.
“That became a regular occurence,” Poquette added.
It’s been a fast few years, and now the business owners are hoping to stay in one place for a while. Their new home next to Jack’s Bistro at 730 Upper Glen is fitting the bill just nicely, with more homemaking still to do.
Most recently, local artist Hannah Williams painted an intricate mural on the back wall of the Stone Stash’s front room.
Pugh said that ultimately, running a business like The Stone Stash is a matter of knowing when to do what you need to.
“Every time we’ve moved, it’s been nessecary. It’s always been out of need for more space, more room for tools or stock or people.”
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