Friday, December 11, 2009

Specimens And Vignettes At Ruby Beets

The Vamp Valorie Hart, with The Hipster Honey Wolters

- I have a ton of pictures from my birthday trip to New York this past July in a folder labelled "Photos To Be Processed." Amongst them are a zillion vignettes from my friends' store in Sag Harbor, New York, a little place called Ruby Beets.

I have known the owners Honey Wolters and Sharone Einhorn from our glory days in Soho (which took place many years ago). We were all associated with the restaurant The Soho Charcuterie in one way or the other.

Through the doors of that restaurant passed some people who worked there, or hung out there, who have become notables: Gina Davis (then only a model & wife of one of the waiters Richie Emilo), Ellen Barkin (actress & a waitress up the street at The Spring Street Bar), Max Blagg (poet & a bartender at Raul's who hung out with the Charcuterie staff), Jim Farmer (composer & Max's sidekick then), Annie Philbin (museum curator & wait staff at the Charc), Gretchen (beuatiful Valkyrie bartender & muscian), Jerri Bokeno (singer with Phil Spector & wait staff), Suzanne White (producer & bookkeeper and bartender), Elizabeth Streb (dancer & hung out with us), Nancy Alfaro (wait staff & dancer), Philip Maberry and Scott Walker (artists & hung out with us), Susan Salinger (wait staff & photographer), another Susan (wait staff and protege of Lou Reed), Robert Maplethorpe (photographer - hung out with us) Pat Iuto (fashion maven - hung out with us) and her husband Michael Schatz, Bruce Cliborne (chef), Jude Bartlett (wait staff & dancer), Brenda Norton (wait staff and singer in Loup Garou), Laura Zarubin (food maven who hung out with us), Anne Wright (chef & daughter of Russel Wright), and of course Sharone and Honey, and many more wonderful artistic souls whose names I can't remember.
The celebrity clientele was monster: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tommy Tune, Twiggy, Joni Mitchell, Meryl Steep, Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, the rock group The Police, Adam Ant, Mary Boone, Julian Schnabel, David Brenner, Rod Stewart, Barry Bostwick, Betsey Johnson, and many more I am sure I have forgotten. Paul Prudhomme cooked there one night to launch his first cook book.
The Soho Charcuterie owned by Francine Scherer and Madeleine Poley was one of those magical places at a magical time in my history.

Sharone and Honey were the coolest chicks. Sharone looked like a rock star. She was rail thin, and always looked totally right. Her demeanor was sardonic and mysterious. She was totally rockin' and hot. I worshiped her. Honey was a glam hipster, and always laid back, always had this Mona Lisa smile, this killer body, a sensual creature with wit and a tell-it-like-is attitude. Both of them had tremendous style. They set trends in fashion, and how they lived.

Honey worked in a place in Soho called Craft Caravan, an importer of textiles and amber and all kinds of ethnic stuff from Africa, and other exotic places. She also did a stint at a jewelry store called Art Wear on West Broadway. She knew about objects like no one I had ever met.

Years went by and the Soho Charcuterie closed its doors. I worked there for six fabulous years. It launched my rock and roll career, and also my event design business. After it closed we all dispersed, kind like we graduated from this funky crazy school of booze, good food, drugs, sex, and roll.

Look at the cash box! It's the little vintage mini box. And I spy our card on the desk!

I met up with them again when I started working in the Hamptons a couple od years later. They had opened a store in this 11 room farm house in Bridgehampton called Ruby Beets. And these cool New Yorkers had left the city and were living in the Hamptons too! If I have to name one of the biggest influences that formed me as a decorator, I have to say it was Honey and Sharone and what they did at the original Ruby Beets.

I would love to own this painting!

Each room was lovingly decorated, and it used to kill them when people actually bought stuff, disturbing their perfect encapsulations. And boy did the people buy! Whole rooms could be wiped out by Donna Karen and her friend Babs. In fact Honey and Sharone got me a job doing the weekly house flowers for Donna Karan.

White paint was slapped on alot of stuff back then. And this is the first store I saw (and bought) taxidermy from to use as decoration. Those girls love specimen collecting. I really think Ruby Beets invented what we call shabby chic now. I still own at least four pieces of furniture I bought way back then, and I still love them and use them.

It was such a hassle when they sold out of merchandise. Of course they wanted and needed to make money, but in those days they rented a huge truck, and drove hundreds of miles picking antiques and vintage stuff for the store. The shopped, loaded the truck, drove it back to Bridgehampton, unloaded the truck, painted and repaired the stuff, arranged the store, and BAM! it would all be sold in a weekend, and they'd be on the road again.

Stacked stone lamp base!

Honey had two young boys then, so it was hard running the business and being a single mom. Now those boys are grown. Sharone has kids now too.

A still life waiting to happen

So this past summer it was a sweet reunion. I had not been to the Hamptons in over 10 0r 12 years.

Yet when I walked into the store Honey acted like I had been out just for a few minutes.

Conversation picked up where we left off. Sharone called to say hi to me on the phone.

I need to get a couple of these waste baskets!

The new store was a marvel to me. Even with working in retail now myself at the most stylish shop in New Orleans, I was still disarmed and charmed by the things at Ruby Beets.

I couldn't stop taking photos. And Honey filled me in on every object I was attracted to.

Shades of Fornasetti!

She offered to share their sources with perch. in New Orleans, something so generous, and very much appreciated for sure.

This new Ruby Beets is tiny in comparison to the old 11 room house. Somehow it's assembled like the perfect puzzle and treasure trove.

The girls still like old things, and specimens, but they also have contemporary furniture and textiles made just for the store.

This wooden model of a whale is spectacular!

They have added modern accessories too, keeping in step with how we all decorate now with that required mix of vintage, antique, and contemporary.

Ruby Beets was always a legend, and even more so when the girls closed the old place, and took a break for five years. Everyone talked about the great stuff they got from Ruby Beets, and missed it being out on the Montauk Highway.

So now open again for a couple of years, the new Ruby Beets is a media darling, and I am so happy for them. The internet hastens every one's fame these days.

I hope you enjoy all these photos I took. I think it's the largest collection of photos of the store.

Please feel free to use them. I think they are great studies to perhaps do a painting from. You have to love a store that sells a scent library.

Library of Scents - too divine!

They carry Cara Croninger a fabulous jewelry artist from the old Soho days. I used to have a couple of these hearts, but lost them one night at The Mudd Club or maybe at Heartbreak or Area. I still have a pair of Cara heart earrings!

Cara Croninger hearts - I Heart these! Are you listening Santa?

I love all the scientific gadgetry they have.

And they love glass.
They are masters of layering object upon object.
Here's an updated take on taxidermy.
This teeeny chartreuse bust just slayed me!
And here are the flat weave rugs they have manufactured for the store.
The whole place reminded me of country version of perch. I could move right in!
The huge beet hanging out front harkens back to the days of 17th and 18th century shop signs.
The store front is so elegant.
Here are the girls in their glam shot done for a Shop Talk story at 1st Dibs. Sharone used to have black hair! But man she still looks sexy. And who could resist Honey?
These last couple of photos are from 1st Dibs.
I don't know how they stopped at a half dozen ha ha.
This last photo is mine. It says it all: Old and New!

Click on images for larger views...


La Maison Fou said...

Great story Valorie, what an exciting adventure. How lucky you were to find them, what a time that must have been!
Love the story,

Jan said...

Truly fascinating post x

La Petite Gallery said...

You are really something!!

There are so many items I like.

About all those Celebrities,
you get around Child..

I think Ellen Barken is great
and Gina Davis too.

Lona de Anna said...

I am in total Awe...great read..and love all the images..everything in that store is amazing...just devine! Thanks for sharing x said...

I have not been to the Hamptons in years either, however I will definitely make a point to stop by Ruby Beets on this summer's holiday. Thanks!


Velvet and Linen said...

Definitely my kind of store and my kind of women!
I always love the stories behind your posts, Valorie. You certainly are living a fascinating life filled with amazing artists.


La Dolfina said...

Great post and eye candy...
truly enjoyed it! Thanks
Have a wonderful weekend :)

Renae said...

Oh Valorie.
Yet another layer of your fabulous past revealed...I love it! Will you take me to NY? I would so love to tag along with you, I haven't been in years!
xoxo said...

Love your stories, love your photos, old girlfriends are the best! Trish

laurelstreet said...

Such a cute picture of the Vamp at the top!

Hill Country House Girl said...

Oh this post was wonderful! Everything... from the bits and pieces of your past lives and adventures, your friendships, and the details and photos of the amazing Ruby Beets - loved it all!! Thank you so much for the tour!!

Gwen Driscoll said...


I love Ruby Beets. Thanks for posting your history and background. I always love to know more than less on how people are connected and intertwined. Have a great weekend.

Ragland Hill Social

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my favorite and my best said...

what a great story. i have been to the ruby beets website and all this time you knew them. you never cease to amaze me my friend.

red ticking said...

honey and sharone are fabulous and i LOVE your fun...
i have been going to the hamptons for years (from seattle!) and always loved the original ruby beets it would be my first and favorite stop ...and so happy they re-opened... never miss it.. x pam

Transformations Home Stylists said...

Loved your story - was still living in NY at the time you chronicled and remember all that well. Have loved Ruby Beets for years- I have lots of pictures taken of their charming old store cos it was so ground breaking. I also kept the House Beautiful article "May We Introduce Ruby Beets" from a few years back. Thanks for taking us shopping! Robin said...

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