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Three Turtle Doves Woodstock Heather Nicosia

Dressing Up as an Art Form

Once upon a time, the notion of “style” on Woodstock’s famous Tinker Street mainly consisted of tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirts and other 1969 concert-related merch. More recently, life circumstances delivered Heather Nicosia to Woodstock’s doorstep, where she managed to create a whimsical boutique that has elevated the village’s style game up a notch (or ten). “When I first opened, people really questioned whether there was a need for this or if it would succeed,” admits Nicosia. Four years later, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.”

Three Turtle Doves Woodstock NY

Three Turtle Doves is, on its surface, a vintage clothing store, but take a closer look and you’ll see that every inch of the small but mighty space is exquisitely curated with the meticulous eyes of a seasoned gallerist. There’s the deco and nouveau décor mashup with a bit of bohemian-meets-ladylike spirit imbued in every objet. It’s all Nicosia’s handiwork.

In the early aughts, after graduating from FIT, Nicosia was the proprietor of the same shop—downstate—in NYC’s East Village, at a time when there was an explosion of likeminded small fashion-forward boutiques popping up around Alphabet City. “We all had a lot of camaraderie,” she says. But she acknowledges that at the end of the day, she was “just a kid, I didn’t exactly know what I was doing,” and shuttered the shop to go on to work in toy manufacturing, which then led to a successful career as a top prop stylist for luxury brands like Tom Ford Beauty. You can see these skills honed in Three Turtle Dove’s current upstate incarnation, where Nicosia observes the aesthetic of, “I’m more grown up now—the store is a bit more ladylike.”

One showcase for Nicosia’s styling chops is the shop’s expansive front window, which she adores “dressing.” “I grew up in Long Island where the idea of going to the city and ‘window shopping’ was such a magical, special thing,” she says, referring to the legendary storefronts of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. During quarantine, she often updated the window to provide an uplifting moment for passersby. (This author admits to driving by and craning her neck to spy the dazzling tableaus.) “I take pride in the window,” she says.

That vein of passion runs deep through the store. While she won’t exactly name favorites, she will admit that each and every piece in the store has been thoughtfully curated and edited. Besides stunning vintage pieces that run the gamut from a checked Norma Kamali blazer to a couple of Bill Blass’ legendary ultrasuede dresses and a collection of coveted Patricia Smith Moon Bags, you’ll also discover new designer wares (including her own eponymously-named line) and local additions like Electric Warrior (“I’m obsessed with their 80s-style handbags”), Woodstock darling Elwyn’s luxurious silk scarves, and native jewelry designers such as Sherri Cohen and Shellie David. You can also find a few beauty touches like Strangelove fragrances and the decadent upstate-hemp sourced Sacred Rituel skincare line.

Three Turtle Doves Woodstock NY

All that glamour is bound to attract a celebrity following—both upstate and down. The iconic supermodel and fellow upstater Helena Christensen shops at Three Turtle Doves regularly, and entrusts Nicosia with an in-store exclusive on Staerk and Christensen, her collaboration with designer Camilla Staerk which includes retro Hollywood style oversized sunglasses, sleek leather stilettos, home goods, and other uberchic accessories. Sarah Jessica Parker is a huge Three Turtle Doves fan; (look for pieces like a rare, one-of-a-kind Revamp by Kera bag among the 40-something pieces her stylist has ordered that may appear in her upcoming “Sex and the City” spinoff, “Just Like That”).

But while there’s no doubt Three Turtle Doves has made a name for itself with the mountain glitterati and fashionistas who make the trek from the city to snap up these exotic goods, Nicosia maintains this is also very much a local business that caters to a local clientele. (The floor of the shop is layered with rugs from neighbor, Anatolia, and she loves dining at local haunts like Silvia and Good Night.) “The store has been a great way to meet so many people. I have my group of old-school Woodstock customers who regularly shop here—they are converts,” she says. “For me, it’s all about the community. I love having conversations with people when they walk in and getting to know them better.” Indeed, the exuberant Nicosia is the ever-present force behind the store: she does all of the buying, decorating, and day-to-day transactions and management herself.

“If there’s a downside, I’ve had people complain ‘it seems too exclusive’ because I’m only open on the weekends. But it’s just me! It takes a lot of time to hunt things down and curate the shop properly. I try to make myself available for private appointments and if I’m here working during the week, I let people in,” she explains.

As for all the newcomers in town, she’s optimistic about all the fresh new energy with a bring-it-on mentality. Her rationale: “These days, I think people would rather hug a tree than go spend time in the Hamptons.”

Heather Nicosia Three Turtle Doves Woodstock NY

And back to that idea of “upstate style.” What does it entail exactly? While upstaters tend to rely on their more utilitarian standby’s (like padded fleece and Birkenstocks), Nicosia is all about playing dress up, and encourages her local customers to indulge themselves on the regular. “During lockdown my [pod of friends] and I would get together and just go for it,” she explains. “I want people to embrace the idea of dressing up for themselves simply because it makes you feel good.”

Overall, Nicosia is grateful for the shop’s success, especially after the challenges quarantine threw at local businesses: “After Covid, we all learned a lesson about finding your passion and doing what you love. I just have so much gratitude to be here.” Her one wish? “No matter if you buy something or not, whether you love the items in the store or not, I want people to walk out of here feeling inspired,” she says. We say, mission accomplished.

📸  Photos by Franco Vogt for Inside+Out Upstate NY


62 B Tinker Street
Woodstock, New York 12498

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