Perhaps the best publicity a city can get is an article about it in the New York Times. An article appeared in the summer of 2009 that profiled a Brooklyn couple who bought a house on Abeel Street now the One Mile Gallery, has resulted in at least one newcomer relocating to Kingston. Hadassah Zuberi Ben-Dor, a resident of Philadelphia for over 40 years and owner of Gargoyles, read the article and was instantly intrigued. Having never been to the Hudson Valley before, she visited Kingston and fell in love with the architecture, arts community, fabulous restaurants, and relatively reasonable real estate prices.
She subsequently bought the former Coffey Gallery building on Wall Street, closing the deal in June and moving in at the end of August. Ben-Dor operates her retail shop and wholesale business on the ground floor and lives upstairs. “It’s just perfect,” she said, noting that the gallery nicely complements her other business, which is selling and renting props to department stores, restaurants, movies, fashion houses, photographers and other clients seeking high-quality vintage goods. She also has a side business producing vintage-style graphics for stores and restaurants.
Quality of life was an important factor in her decision to move to Kingston: “I will not make the millions I made ten years ago, but what I cherish is the serenity, beauty, and art culture of the area,” she said.
Ben-Dor, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, came to the U.S. as a student at the Moore College of Art, located in Philadelphia, where she got her degree in graphic design. She started out in the salvage business and eventually acquired a 10,000-square- foot building in Philly. Realizing that there was a market beyond home renovators, Ben-Dor started targeting restaurants and department stores and eventually became hugely successful, traveling the world for vintage goods. For a while, she was flying once a month to England, because “they have the look…with their old luggage and sports equipment.” She has made shipments as far as Japan, and her clients include such specialty businesses as a golf club in Maryland. Ben-Dor did more than just provide pieces: she also helped her clients come up with a look and an atmosphere, such as “Maine Fishing Village,” which she would sell as well as supply. “I was loving it,” she said. “It was so creative. The people I deal with are mostly designers.”
After 9/11, however, there was a significant fall-off in business, and eventually Ben-Dor had to sell her building. Finding herself priced out of the Philadelphia market, she was looking for an alternative when she read the Times article about Kingston.
Ben-Dor has already become active in the community, opening her doors on the First Saturday Gallery Walk, participating in the O+ Positive Festival, and becoming a vendor in the antiques show held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, in Rhinebeck. It’s been a perfect fit: “It feels like I’ve been here forever,” Ben-Dor said. She invites everyone to her “very beautiful show room,” at 330 Wall Street.