We Are Upstate New York with Beck Home + Goods
Inside+out is pleased to present our We Are Upstate NY exclusive interview with Robert Eckhardt, co-founder of Beck Home + Goods. Having worked in retail with globally recognized luxury brands retail giants like Hermès of Paris and Saks Fifth Avenue, proprietors Robert Eckhardt and Carlos Becil launched the newest (and hottest) home goods boutique in Woodstock NY.
Beck Home + Goods exudes a relaxed, chic upstate aesthetic filled with beautifully curated modern farmhouse-inspired essentials, mostly crafted by local Hudson Valley makers and artisans. With just one visit, you’ll understand why Beck Home + Goods has become the go-to local shop for inspired functional home goods and gifts.
Inside+Out: Tell us about yourself: Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in Upstate NY?
Robert Eckhardt: I grew up in Fredericksburg, a small town in Texas. I’ve lived in New York for the past 22 years and moved to High Falls eight years ago. I love the small-town feel and started spending every weekend here. I made it my full-time home 2 years ago. The Hudson Valley has so much to offer, it’s such a special place.
What inspired you to open your own shop and how did Beck get its name?
I’ve worked in retail my entire career and always dreamed of opening and running my own store. It’s given me the opportunity to pursue my passions and help create something that supports my values. When we started working on the idea for the store, we were committed to supporting local makers with a focus on female and BIPOC owned brands. We had a simple idea to curate an assortment of beautiful modern farmhouse-inspired essentials featuring goods crafted by local Hudson Valley makers. We always seek out new makers and products that are thoughtfully crafted and designed and perfect for everyday use.
Beck Home + Goods is a short and simple name, and it’s an amalgam of my last name and my partner’s last name.
Are all goods sold at Beck sourced locally, and how do you find these local brands?
While the majority of our pieces are locally made, not all are. We’re grateful to have partnered with local makers like Benedicte & Jerome Leclere of L’impatience, Nonna Hall of Nonnetta’s Keramika, Kim Gilmour of Fisheye Ceramics, Michele Weisman of MOMEMADE, Pierre Bowring of Bow Glassworks, Cheryl Pagano of The Highlands Foundry…the list goes on and on.
We also partner with friends like Andrew Addotta and Clark Chaine, who created Hamilton & Adams in Kingston. When we don’t source locally, we tend to find purpose-driven brands and support their mission. Brands like Creative Women, Kai & Molly and handmade.la connor.
Why did you choose Woodstock for the location of your store?
We felt that Woodstock is a growing and welcoming community that we wanted to be part of. It has a history as a destination for creative talent and it just felt like the right place to open our first store.
Having worked for Hermes, Prada, Coach, Saks Fifth Avenue and The Gap, you possess an amazing business background. Tell us about your business journey and how running Beck Home + Goods fits in?
I was lucky to start my career in retail at The Gap and Saks Fifth Avenue and then transitioned into Human Resources roles at a few different retailers. It’s influenced me in many ways and been part of my journey leading to opening Beck Home + Goods. First, it has instilled in me the importance of customer service and ensuring our customers feel welcome and have a great experience in our store. Working with customers is one of my favorite parts of the job.
Secondly, working for luxury retail brands has given me a deep appreciation for craftsmanship and attention to product detail. It’s one of the main reasons we have been very focused on local makers and featuring handcrafted products, particularly in the Hudson Valley.
Between technology and Covid, there’s so much change going on. How is the retail landscape evolving and how are you adapting?
We opened during the middle of the pandemic, and it certainly has been a factor in how we run our business. We find that customers are now more than ever interested in the story behind each product: Who crafted it, where was it made, what are the maker’s values or purpose? I find the pandemic further heightened the importance of understanding the impact on the planet of the products we consume and how they’re made. I love sharing those stories with our customers.
Another obvious impact has been the importance of e-commerce and in-store pick-ups. We launched our website beckhomeandgoods.com last year, and that has been very beneficial. It allows us to reach customers who can’t necessarily visit our store or may just want to pre-order and pick up curbside.
What’s one question you’re constantly asked about your business?
We’re regularly asked if we make the products ourselves! It’s flattering, but we do not make any of the merchandise we sell. There are so many wonderful creatives in the Hudson Valley, and we are very fortunate to showcase their work.
How do you grow your business and how do your customers find you?
We’re on Tinker Street in Woodstock and benefit that it’s a destination for our neighbors and visitors to the Hudson Valley. We’ve launched our website and are also building out our Instagram presence. Both have helped grow our business and attract new customers. We’re also very grateful to the local community, who has been supportive and really helped spread word-of-mouth. One customer even mentioned that everyone in her ceramics class was talking about our store, and we just loved hearing that!
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?
It’s a tight-knit community of local store owners, and we look out for each other. We’re lucky to have wonderful stores nearby that all have unique offerings that appeal to customers across the region. Everyday Magic and Three Turtles Doves are great stores with fabulous owners. We also benefit from being right next door to Woodstock Wine & Liquors, which comes in very handy.
What’s next for you? Sneak peek of new direction or product?
We’re so excited to be coming up on the store’s 1st anniversary. Next month we’ll be back with fresh cut flowers from Twilight Acres’ Homegrown Flower Farm in Stone Ridge. Each week Laura creates unexpected and stunning new bouquets for us. Last summer, it became a ritual with customers coming early every Friday to pick up a freshly cut bouquet of flowers. We’re very excited to announce we’ll be working for the first time with Erica Recto, and this Spring, we’re introducing a beautiful collection of her ceramic pieces.
What would be your dream Hudson Valley staycation?
It would be all about being in nature. Staying at Getaway House Cabins in the Catskills, biking the trails at Lake Minnewaska, and spending more time on trails like Kaaterskill Falls. Getting off the grid and into nature would be the dream. Dream staycation not only for us but our puppy Austin too!
Your current state of mind?
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Read all of our WE ARE UPSTATE NY Interviews