“This is my final form—owning a record shop in a small town,” says music industry veteran Jessica Clark. “This has been the goal for a long time.” On April 22, AKA Record Store Day, Clark threw open the doors to Everything Nice in Ellenville, which stocks a broad selection of new and second-hand vinyl she’s curated and a smaller offering of books from One Grand.
“I co-managed a record shop in my hometown in Indiana. I’ve traveled a lot, worked at record labels and festivals, produced events. But this was always my favorite,” says Clark, who still works during the week at Joyful Noise Recordings in the city. “I just love, love, love Ellenville, love the space, and the shop is going better than I thought it would.”
Pre-pandemic found Clark and her husband living in Brooklyn, freshly relocated from Amsterdam by way of St. Petersburg, Florida, where a short stint consulting at a record shop rekindled her longtime dream. When buying an apartment in the city proved laughably cost-prohibitive, they started searching upstate, finding that it too had its expensive pockets.
“For the price of one to three acres in Woodstock, we got 10 acres in Ellenville,” says Clarke. “And this little town has got something. We found the restaurant scene. We found the COFFE community. We just got sort of enveloped in this community. Everyone in Ellenville is really lovely and supportive and cheers each other on. It was a no-brainer to open here once I got to know the people.”
Nestled between Town Hall and the office of Shawangunk Journal, the brick building that houses Everything Nice is quintessential old Ellenville. Owned by Andrew Jacobs, who is spearheading the nearby Borscht Belt Museum, the building previously housed Bobby V’s restaurant and Kaplan’s Dress Shop. “The mayor’s grandmother’s dress shop!” Clark exclaims. “I’m obsessed with the history of this space. I want to gather as much memorabilia as I can.” A cleaning, quick paint job, and a change of lights was about all the work the storefront needed to be ready for its newest incarnation as a record store. Gilded and hand-painted window signage was done by Brenna Chase of Willow Deep Studio.
Through her own musical exploration and globetrotting travels, Clark has sourced a wide range of music including albums from Ethiopia, Japan, the Middle East. By her own admission, customers return to Everything Nice for records that are “a little off the wall.” Post-Its offer listening notes like a musical wine list, and a listening station in the shop window lets you hear before you buy. “I firmly believe no one should be embarrassed by what they listen to,” she says. “Record stores in the ’90s had this vibe ‘you have to be cool to get in here.’ I don’t subscribe to that. At Ellenville High School, there is a huge group of Swifties. I’m not precious about what is cool or not. My ideal scenario is that someone leaves with two records: one they knew and something they just found.”
Taylor Swift aside, Clark also aims to shine a spotlight on underrepresented artists and “really weird shit people can grab onto.” The collection of second-hand records is partly drawn from her own personal collection. “It’s a really sweet way to engage with people,” she says. “I love watching people surprise themselves.” She is also committed to accessibility as much as she can, sourcing cheap records from her international travels and special ordering CDs and other media by request.
“Bluetooth speakers are a privilege—they’re not something everything has. Physical media is still a way for a lot of people to get their music in low-income areas,” Clark says. “Music awakens something in people. It helps make their day a little lighter. They get a twinkle in their eyes.”
In addition to vinyl, Clark teamed up with award-winning journalist, magazine editor, literary festival organizer Aaron Hicklin to bring a small but curated selection of books to Everything Nice. Hicklin is the founder of One Grand Books, which has brick-and-mortar shops in Narrowsburg and Livingston Manor. “He’s a wonderful person, just really, really special,” Clark says. “We really fit because we both stock our shelves with such intention. It’s an absolute treat to work with him. I get so many compliments on the selection. The ability this man has to pick out books—he must have impeccable taste. I don't have so much inventory, but I sell and sell and sell.”
In 2024, in addition to opening five days a week, Clark also plans to expand the reading selection to include periodicals for "newsstand vibes,” along with some seating. The space has a large, wraparound bar, and Clark originally intended to offer Italian-style espresso drinks. But building permit complications have led her to simplify the concept to a drink fridge for simple refreshments like kombucha that people can enjoy while reading a magazine. A liquor license is conceivably in the five-year plan. “I do love a happy hour moment,” Clark says. “I would love to have people doing DJ sets, serving Aperol spritz.” But with a church-facing front door and archaic town regulations, that dream may be a while in the making. Still, Clark is over the moon about her new home.
“You don't plop down in Ellenville to make your fortune, we’re here because we care,” she says. “Our new motto is, ‘Ellenville: we’re trying.’ And we are, every day. Are we doing it? Probably. When I come to the shop, I still squeal when I unlock the door and walk in. I think, ‘what is this day going to bring?’”
Everything Nice is open Friday through Sunday, 12-5pm.