Jamie Creel’s earliest international travel falls outside the purview of the average tourist. Looking back, he points to three months spent in Kenya when he was a teen as likely the best trip of his whole childhood. “When I was a kid, my parents would pretty much send me away every summer,” he recalls. An ardent interest in far-flung locales ensued when he began planning his own itineraries—spanning the globe from the Galapagos Island to Mozambique, and myriad destinations in between. A penchant for collecting followed suit, and Creel & Gow—the stylish Manhattan boutique whose well-curated assemblage of fascinating and exquisite objects from all corners of the world—was born in 2012. Last year, to the delight of locals and visitors alike, Creel and partner Marco Scarani brought their cabinet of curiosities to the Hudson Valley, where a second iteration of Creel & Gow is now flourishing in Millbrook.
“The things that interest me are things that aren’t found anywhere else here in the United States,” Creel explains of a varied inventory running the gamut from 19th-century glass eglomise French apothecary jars to a full-length Coney Island carnival mirror. And everything in between. It’s part Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop and part museum, inspired by an intention that the customer’s shopping experience mimics Creel’s own sourcing in the field.
“You kind of stumble across things when you come into my store,” he explains. And you’re always going to find something you’ve never seen before. Take the custom-mounted silver and carnelian headdress from Turkmenistan ($1,600) or the full-sized taxidermy nyala (a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa) that will set you back $4,800. This pursuit of rare finds, one Creel admits is “less about the object and more about the hunt for that object,” has become a full-blown passion project turned profession.
While certain standalone items seem ostensibly fit for royal folk, the whole gestalt—arranged thematically to include oceanic, mineral, nature, decor, jewelry, and art de la table categories—is not only satisfying, but has also filled an otherwise vacant niche in Dutchess County. There are plenty of objects under $100, from hollowed ostrich eggs and diminutive rock crystal bowls to brass boar-head bottle openers, carved tiger’s eye camellias, and signature calendula- and tea-scented candles.
Forging connections has been a mainstay of Creel’s business. He’s spent two decades working with an atelier in Rome on the shop’s signature silvered shells—including stunning salt cockles and place card holders in varied hues—crafted in the same family-run workshop that does restoration work for the Vatican. Ditto goes for his sourcing of gold-flecked lapis lazuli, both natural and carved specimens, from the Sar-i Sang mines in Afghanistan.
Creel grew up in Long Island’s Locust Valley and spent weekends on the family farm in Millbrook. Despite what might be considered geographically provincial beginnings (he and Scarani currently split their time between New York City, Paris, and Morocco), a soft spot for the Hudson Valley remains.
“This area was always my happy place when I was a child, and it’s nice being here again,” he says as the first anniversary of Creel & Gow’s June 1 opening in Millbrook looms.
“It became a COVID project, really,” Creel says of the somewhat serendipitous decision to open a second shop—one sparked by his brother’s acquisition of the building at 3424 Franklin Avenue, after the decades-old Twin Brooks Gardens succumbed during the early days of the lockdown. “They used to do flower arrangements for my mom all the time,” Creel adds wistfully of another landmark from his childhood. Much to his delight, landscape architect Anthony Bellomo’s new garden shop and plant nursery, Orangerie Garden + Home, is in residence under the second half of the very same roof.
No matter the goal—whether looking to embellish one’s home with originality or find a distinctive gift for discerning individuals—Creel and Gow is packed to the proverbial gills with rare minerals, coral, unusual decorative objects, and exotic accessories perfect for perusing.
The Millbrook shop expands Creel and Scarani’s vision for the home beyond decorative objects to include antiques from around the world and an exclusive line of rattan furniture made in Tangier—a fitting homage to another place they call home. The walls are adorned with original artwork, the floors piled with Moroccan and Mauritian carpets, and soft furnishings—including tabletop linens designed by Scarani (a native of Cannes who speaks four languages and casts his chic, multicultural style upon any interior he touches)—keep company with fabrics sourced from cultures spanning the globe.
Need help finding this otherworldly destination? Look no further than the iconic red phone kiosk—plucked straight from the streets of London, post World War II (but not by Creel, he found it in Texas, of all paces!)—standing sentinel outside this not-to-be-missed design emporium.