I sat down with Jacqueline Kellachan in the upstairs room of her store, The Golden Notebook. It’s one of my family’s favorite shops in town to frequent, and it was fun to dig in and learn how she landed here.
Juliet: What brought you to Woodstock?
Jackie: A good friend of mine was dating Martha Frankel’s cousin. She used to spend all her weekends up here. Back in ’96, my husband at the time and I, we couldn’t afford a place in the city so I said “why don’t we get a house in Woodstock because Julie likes it there.”
We drove up in January and it was crazy raining and there was flooding everywhere. We saw a house and we bought it. We’d never spent a night in Woodstock. So that’s how we got our place and we were weekenders for years. We moved up here full time in 2005, after I had my 3rd kid and we were both a little bit in career transition and came up.
Juliet: What is your very first memory?
Jackie: Being up here in a flood.
Juliet: So that was it, the first time you came up, because somebody you knew liked it.
Jackie: I always say I live here because of Martha Frankel, and she always says “I don’t know what that means” and I retell the story, but she’s just kidding.
So that’s why actually, I mean weirdly, it’s because of someone who is a writer, and books, that I ended up being here. (laughs)
Juliet: When was The Golden Notebook established?
Jackie: In 1978. Next year will be 40 years that this community has supported an independent bookstore, which is huge because the town is only a little bit over 5,000 people. The Bronx doesn’t have it’s own bookstore, and there’s 1.4 million people in The Bronx. So, that’s amazing. Since 1978 when Barry and Ellen started the store
Juliet: When did you come in?
Jackie: 2010. James, my co-owner, came in in 2015.
Juliet: What has changed since you got here?
Jackie: In a way, to me, not that much. I’ve gone from being someone who wasn’t a business owner to becoming a business owner and so my experience of the town changed during that time. I can tell you how during the past five years there are a lot more people here because of AirBnB. I see that as a retailer. One of the things that really attracted me to Woodstock when we were getting ready to move up here full time is that you could perceive an intensity of the community, right? Even though I’d lived in New York City for years and had an amazing work community, I wasn’t feeling it in that way in the neighborhood where I lived. Having kids and coming up here, I was really able to slide into that community. That was really nice. Now that I’m a retailer and I have a different experience. I don’t know if that other sense of community is still there, or if you can feel it in the same way coming in from the outside. I think that you can, but I don’t know. I talk to people all the time who are moving up here, or in the area, or are in the process of thinking about it, or who have gotten their first house. It is definitely something that they talk about, and it’s something that they do sense. So, maybe it hasn’t changed.
Juliet: I’ve lived other places where it was very hard to feel like a part of it, so when I meet someone who has just moved here I usually reach out, offer to exchange numbers and maybe help get their lives going…
Jackie: Exactly. Being here in the bookstore, both James and I really feel like we are representing the community. Physically the reason why we own and believe in book stores is that we believe it is a place that brings people together around books, around ideas, and around articulation of those ideas. Especially during the summer time, people are always coming in here wanting to connect with what Woodstock is in some way. Maybe they are here because they thought the festival was here, or a zillion different reasons. So we are always giving them a version of Woodstock and trying to explain it to them. One of the things I always say to people who are moving up here is that people are very accessible. That may just be the difference between a small town and New York City or New York City and a lot of other places. But, people are very accessible.
Juliet: What is your favorite thing about being here?
Jackie: That people are very accessible. (both of us laugh) It remains a very real place. I hear people who grew up here say “AH, it’s different! There’s more wealthy people, or, something – different.” I think there is A LOT of income diversity. I think it’s a very difficult place, still, to make a living. I think that that keeps it very real. I do really love that there is a lot of income diversity. That’s very – I guess philosophically something that is attractive to me. The fact that it is a real community of the arts, it really is. There’s so many people living here who are artists and trying to do their thing on the spectrum of success. In the most DIY way and in an extremely “You’re the most successful person – at this, anywhere.” It’s true. That spectrum exists in our community and I love that. I love that people are a pain in the ass. (I laugh) They are! People are very difficult because they are individuals and they have their opinions. Some people are a little bit maybe on the more – crazy, you know. But I love that they can live here and be in the community too because that is sanitized out, to use a word, in a lot of places.
I should say that my favorite thing is also owning the bookstore and being in the center of town. It’s so much fun. We get to talk to people all day long who live here and who are coming here and people love it here for all the different reasons I’ve said. And the town bothers them for probably many of the reasons I’ve said too.
People really feel passionate about Woodstock, they really do, and that’s cool to be in a place where we can hear that, talk about it, and contribute to that conversation every day. It’s so much fun.
The Golden Notebook 29 Tinker Street Woodstock, NY 12498 (845)679-8000