Spruce to Open Chautauqua Institution Store

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The co-owners of Spruce Home Décor & Gift Shop say they are looking forward to the opening of their third store at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State.

Spruce, which has locations in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, expects to open the new store full-time June 13, following a soft opening a few weekends before, Nick Giancola said.

Giancola and his sister, Erica Lewis, opened their first store in Niles in 2014. Five years later, they opened their second store in Boardman in a retail plaza space shared with OH Donut Co.

“It just seems like it fits the community,” he said. “Our style works with the style of the institution and what the needs are there.”

The Chautauqua Institution, on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York, is a nonprofit education center and resort that “operates year round to explore the best in human values by creating programming that raises questions and conversations about the most important issues of the day,” said Emily Morris, senior vice president and chief brand officer. 

The institution “comes to life in its fullest manifestation during the summer months,” drawing about 100,000 people, she said.

The Chautauqua Lake Spruce storefront.

The idea for the third location grew out of trips to Chautauqua Institution that Giancola made with his husband. He had long thought that he would love to open a store there “down the road.”

Among the various businesses there, he saw a “void in the market when it came to home goods and unique gifts. So we were kind of a fit in that lane that didn’t exist there,” he said. 

“They just felt like that community was missing something and we had it right here in Youngstown, obviously, at Spruce,” Lewis affirmed.

During a visit last year, Giancola saw that one of the existing businesses was no longer going to be leasing its space, so he began discussions with the institution.

“The stars aligned,” he said. 

Many of the people who come to Chautauqua Institution have homes that have been in their families for generations, so Morris predicted the store would be well received. The store will provide “another resource for making their homes more comfortable” and provide a new option for gift giving.

“Many of our members come here year after year, and have wonderful friendships that they only get to explore when they’re here in the summer,’ she said.

The Chautauqua Spruce will offer much the same merchandise as the Mahoning Valley stores but also will feature different product lines that aren’t carried locally, “things that lend themselves more to summer retreats or lake merchandise,” Giancola said.

In addition, there will be a greater focus at the new store on “interior-driven services” such as decorating design, and wider furniture selection.   

“It’s going to be something different,” Lewis said.

The siblings will operate all three stores, with Giancola focusing on Chautauqua and Lewis managing the Valley stores as well as Spruce’s online presence.

Giancola said he will be in town a couple days per week and Lewis, during the peak weeks of the summer season will join him in Chautauqua “when two owners in the store would be good” and when retail business tends to drop off. In Youngstown. Summer isn’t “a peak season for home decor,” he noted.  

“This gave us an opportunity to create a summer destination on a lake and fill in the void where we may be lacking in our Youngstown market,” he said. “Our time frees up a bit in the summer so we can shift our focus and dedicate time and resources to a third location that is more of a destination location for individuals.”

Plans include hiring up to three part-time employees. Beginning June 13, the store will be open daily through the summer then reduce hours in the fall.

“And then we are going to see what happens into the winter,” Giancola said. Many places close in the community because of the nature of their winter weather.

“This first year we’ll feel that out and also talk with the other businesses and see what this year holds,” he said.

Pictured at top: Co-owners Erica Lewis and Nick Giancola

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.