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Hillsdale’s Davis and Draves Think Locally and Act Globally

Draves and Davis

By Jamie Larson

Ken Davis and Kevin Draves run two traditional small-town businesses in Hillsdale, New York: an ice cream parlor and a “lifestyle boutique,” but their unique approach and style are anything but ordinary. The couple’s artistic taste and community mindedness are a big part of the reason the little village at the crossroads of the Berkshires and the Hudson Valley has become such a draw for people driving through.

For all the time they put in at Village Scoop and Passiflora, it’s a surprise that those businesses are not their day jobs. Draves, a costume supervisor for movies and television, and Davis, a photographer and a 20-year volunteer with GMHC and their Friends In Deed Groups, spend the weekdays in the city and weekends behind the counters of their businesses, adjacent to each other in the center of town.

“We always loved this area and knew the village square was sort of this hidden gem,” Draves says.

A milkshake special at Village Scoop.

Draves and Davis met 21 years ago in New York before buying their home in Copake in early 2001. After a few years of keeping to themselves they wanted to become a more involved part of the community, opening Passiflora and later renovating the abandoned, flame-covered tattoo parlor next door into their modern ice cream shop. They’re now a part of a pleasant business district that seems to be adding interesting and diverse new stores and eateries all the time. Just this summer Village Scoop boldly expanded its operation to include local cheese plates, salads and yogurts, and are making “mocktails” as the area’s first alcohol-free bar.

“In a village this size, we all have to support each other and that’s really important to us,” says Draves. “Anyone who comes in, we are constantly talking up the other places in town.”

“If Eyes Could Speak” by Ken Davis

Davis and Draves aren’t just trying to give back to Hillsdale but to their global community as well. The two first traveled to India and Nepal five years ago with friends and became involved with Himalayan Healthcare and Jeevankala, the charity’s shop through which indigenous women sell handmade items to support their families. Passiflora carries many of these goods, which are part of vital micro economies. Davis and Draves have since returned to the region twice, even helping Jeevankala design and set up a new shop in Katmandu. They’ll be returning again this fall. Many of the other intriguing items at Passiflora take on new meaning when you find out they go to support world charities and people in emerging markets.

“It’s what we were able to do to help support them. It’s not that hard for us to do and it means so much,” Davis says, adding that the store is packed with stuff they love and believe in. “But we also wanted to have a price point that’s for everyone. A lot of times we’re thinking about our friends and neighbors and what they like.”

While traveling, Davis embraced his passion for the people he met through his photography, taking photos of enchanting settings and the strangers-turned-friends along the way. His photos are now on display at the Roe Jan Community Library through September 11.

“It wasn’t difficult to communicate, even though we didn’t speak the same language,” Davis says of the people he met and photographed.

Draves exuberantly talks up Davis’ photos and the meaningful experiences behind them but is modest when discussing his career accomplishments. His filmography is impressive. He’s worked as costume supervisor on television shows and movies as diverse as they are acclaimed. He’s helped outfit stars in high style and period attire in Sex and the City, Taking Woodstock, Julie and Julia, and Boardwalk Empire and helped superheroes don leather and cape in The Dark Night Rises and Daredevil. He says he’s really excited to see the next release bearing his fingerprints, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

It’s easy and enjoyable to peruse Passiflora or treat yourself at Village Scoop oblivious to the personal aspects — the compassionate world view and keen artistry — the owners bring to their small-town businesses. But their story gives you one more big reason to stop in Hillsdale and see what’s so special at the crossroads.

“People say, ‘this is one of our favorite places on our way to…’” says Draves. “We came up here to get away but then we met all these amazing people. Now we’re in a position where we’re able to give back to the community. That feels good. We are stronger together.”

2638 State Route 23, Hillsdale, NY
Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Village Scoop
2640 State Route 23, Hillsdale, NY
Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sundays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 08/22/16 at 10:06 AM • Permalink