Hawley Silk Mill’s New Mill Market: A local treasure
Located in the Hawley Silk Mill on Silk Mill Drive in Hawley, PA, the newly opened Mill Market features locally produced food and goods made within 200 miles of the Lake Wallenpaupack region of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The market, which opened its doors in June of 2012, also carries a selection of fine specialty products not available locally.
Silk Mill history
Mill Market is situated on the first floor of the recently renovated Hawley Silk Mill building, which features boutique retail spaces with glass storefronts and unique tilt-up doors, as well as classrooms for Lackawanna College and other offices. The entire space is designed to have a contemporary industrial feel to it while keeping historic elements of the building intact. Architect Peter Bohlin, who designed Manhattan’s 5th Avenue Apple Store, designed the retail space, creating an upscale look for the historic building—maintaining key features and integrating modern elements into the three-story structure originally known as the Bellemonte Silk Mill.
The imposing native bluestone building is fascinating in its origins, full of adventure tales to the orient to import the silk worm caterpillars that wove the silky threads on the grounds. Built in 1880, the silk mill was a fixture in the Hawley community for generations from both an economic and historic perspective, employing up to 363 people at its peak. As the demand for domestic textiles faded, the mill became vacant in 1986 for the first time in its history. In 1990, the mill became the home of Castle Antiques and Reproductions, an antique retail and wholesale operation, until the business was liquidated, leaving the building vacant again. Now owned by the Hawley Silk Mill, LLC, an investment group of local people including the Genzlinger family, the building is a vibrant center of local commerce.
(For more about the history of the Silk Mill, visit www.hawleysilkmill.com.)
After a tour with Mill Market’s manager Chamonix Anke, I sat down with proprietor Justin Genzlinger to talk about this unique concept in food retailing. Genzlinger, no stranger to the food and hospitality business—his parents own the renowned Settlers Inn in Hawley—grew up around fine food and service. After graduating from Lehigh University, he moved to Washington, DC to work in corporate finance, returning home to Hawley in 2009 to manage the newly renovated Silk Mill.
“The idea for Mill Market actually came out of the farm-to-table philosophy of The Settlers Inn restaurant,” said Genzlinger. “Our goal is to provide the community with 70 percent or more of food within a 200-mile radius of Hawley.” Mill Market’s branding reiterates this concept with in-store packaging designating 50-, 100,- or 200-mile ratings (relating to how far the food travels). The other 30 percent is a thoughtfully selected combination of natural and international foods such as imported cheeses, specialty drinks and a good selection of specialty sauces and condiments such as pickled ginger and cheese-stuffed olives.
The store carries over 1,200 items, including farm-fresh produce plus a variety of locally sourced cheeses, breads, meats and sausages. “We also create locally themed gift baskets, and we can ship them to anywhere from our UPS center at the front counter,” said Anke.
Said Genzlinger, “If you like to cook and entertain, you can easily plan a four-course gourmet meal with the items we carry. At the same time, we complement the local supermarkets that don’t sell such diverse local and ethnic foods as we do. We do carry products from many of the local businesses in the area, such as Alpine Wurst & Meat Haus, or Calkins Creamery, both in Honesdale.” Mill Market also carries prepared meals, soups, sauces and entrees from Cocoon Catering Company and The Settlers Inn, for those who want the convenience of already prepared, high quality meals. “Stocking these local goods actually drives business to the local stores, farms and restaurants,” said Genzlinger. “That’s why we like to say that we are ‘locally driven.’”
Mission is ‘to educate’
The diversity of products at Mill Market is matched by the diverse mix of its shoppers. Weekenders and visitors love to stop by and sample the local foods, while the locals like shopping in a market that allows them to try various foods they may only find in restaurants. The market also carries a large selection of bulk foods such as grains, lentils, beans and rice. “Buying in bulk,” said Anke,” is a very affordable way to shop.”
There is also a wide variety of gluten-free products such as breads, cakes and pastas that can be found in many areas of the store, from frozen foods to snacks.
According to Genzlinger, a large part of the mission of Mill Market is “to educate the public in the recognition and preparation of fresh, local and sustainable foods. We do this by offering classes and events on Saturdays. Our goal is to make healthy eating fun for all, that’s why many of the events are geared towards kids and families.” A recent event was OktoberFest, featuring local meats and stout.
Old meets new
As a cornerstone of the Hawley Silk Mill, Mill Market plays an essential role in supporting the Silk Mill’s mission of education, history and economic contribution—particularly through its events, which draw visitors to the property. A goal of restoring the Silk Mill was to revitalize a building that was an integral part of the life of the community for generations, and to give it a new purpose. Its renovation preserves the architectural history of the area and creates a green message of reuse and renewal.
Mill Market is a perfect example of old meets new—a place filled with history that, in some ways, is repeating itself. During the 1880s when the mill was built, producing, buying and eating local was—by necessity—a way of life. Today, even though we have many more choices, folks are coming full circle and returning to the buy local, buy fresh lifestyle.