Tom Illari began coming upstate to Greene County during the heyday of Catskill Mountain vacation getaways. While spending time hiking and enjoying the natural splendor that has intrigued and awed visitors since the early 1800s, his passion for collecting memorabilia grew and grew. Fast forward fifty years, and Catskill Collectibles has become not only an online revenue stream for this retiring CFO, but a way to connect with people from across the country – sharing great memories of the Catskills.
Tom’s cozy home in the village of Catskill, NY is both welcoming and an elegant display of some prime examples of the artwork of the region. Over the past few years, it has also become the home-base for his lifestyle business – Catskill Collectibles. His website and Etsy Shop feature multitudes of memorabilia – ranging from prints of famous Hudson River School paintings, to commemorative china and glassware celebrating iconic destinations like the Catskill Mountain House, to more kitschy and fun items from the mid-20th century.
As a younger man, Tom read Roland Van Zandt’s definitive history titled “The Catskill Mountain House," and he was hooked. His life-long affinity for all-things-Catskills had begun.
Tom’s business could not have been viable prior to the expansion of broadband connectivity and mobile technology. While he still enjoys meeting people
face-to-face when he takes his booth to markets and street fairs, his real customer interaction takes place online. The Catskills Collectibles Facebook page has grown to a following of nearly 5,000 as more and more enthusiasts find and like it. Once on the page, an immediate opportunity to chat with Tom appears, and he engages his following every day with new items, stories, and shared memories.
The stories run deep as well. A dance program from the Hotel Kaaterskill Fancy Dress Ball held on August 24, 1885 gives a glimpse back to a bygone era of civility and traditions of polite society.
Collectibles make wonderful gifts for people with shared interests and mutual memories, and Catskill Collectibles has become not only an online specialty retailer, but a chance to re-connect with one’s past and explore it with an expert curator.
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