Beekman expects HQ move to fuel expansion here


By Patsy Nicosia

It's a good problem to have and hopefully, a better problem for Sharon Springs:
After six years and two locations, Beekman 1802 has outgrown its space and is moving its corporate headquarters to Schenectady.
Owners Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge are also looking-locally and beyond-for a place to move their shipping and packing operations too.
Together, those efforts will allow Beekman 1802 to expand the couple's Main Street store, Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said Monday outside on the front steps of the shop, tractor and car traffic hurrying by, because there was no room to talk inside.
"Now you see what I mean," Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said as he squeezed past some of the business's 18-plus employees.
Upstairs, the shop's furniture showroom is only open weekends, when employees don't need it for workspace.
Downstairs, shipping and packing, where about 20 people work around the clock from mid-November to mid-December, is crowded into a small space behind the front counter and the basement is relegated to inventory space.
Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said the company realized a year ago that, based on continued growth, they needed more space.
They also needed to find a way to recruit-and keep-the kind of digital and e-commerce professionals Mr. Kilmer-Purcell and Mr. Ridge are not.
"We had offers to move our headquarters to Minneapolis, Orlando, Boston...but we're really committed to staying in Upstate New York," Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said.
Their search led them to the Electric City Innovation Center on State Street, Schenectady, where they'll become its first START-UP NY tenant in partnership with Schenectady County Community College.
"They put together an amazing package," Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said, adding that they worked with SUNY Cobleskill's Jason Evans to take advantage of START-UP NY space there, but couldn't find anything that worked.
With that piece of the puzzle taken care of, Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said they're now focusing on finding space for packing and shipping.
They've toured the former Guilford Mills in Cobleskill and looked at the former Landreth Seed building in Sharon Springs as well as a couple of other sites there, but haven't yet picked one, Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said.
"That end of the business really has very specific needs," he said, including access for large trucks and a loading truck.
"We were offered a very good deal [for space] in Schenectady and a pretty good deal in Cobleskill, but we really, really want to keep it in Sharon Springs," where they spent $180,000 on postage in 2015 and expect to spend $250,000 this year.
"We know how important post offices are to small rural communities."
Once packing and shipping finds a new home, Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said, they plan to turn that space into a Beekman Experience Space, where people would come for things like cooking or gardening lessons-even book clubs-something that would help bring traffic into downtown Sharon Springs.
"That's where the growth in tourism is," he said. "Experiences. We don't need museums [like Cooperstown's Hall of Fame]."
Upstairs, the furniture showroom will be open seven days a week and who knows what they'll be able to do with the basement, he said.
Mr. Kilmer-Purcell said the one thing he wants the community to know is that they're not leaving.
"We're not moving the shop or the farm, just the office," he said.
"We're doubling down on Sharon Springs. It takes a very special person to live here, and we're here for the long haul."