"So, do you think she knew?"
...is how I introduced myself holding an Erika Jayne prayer candle at Hitch LI in Babylon. It was my first ever trip to the store and immediately I couldn't believe I had never been before. I was tipped off by none other then Katie Cassin that Joseph was someone I HAD to interview. "I really don't think she knew," he responds, and after some more Real Housewives gabbing he disagrees with me about another franchise OG's intel on her money crimes, but I'll spare the gossip, you'll have to bring it up to him yourselves. We move the Reality TV chit chat outside in their shop's shared courtyard space on a nice summer day and get right to it. Our conversation lasted almost two full hours yet felt like no time at all , "Am I in a therapy session or something?" Joseph jokingly says since we move through all of the layers of personal journey and professional storefront. Hitch is not only a maker's market on Babylon's Main Street, but a special type of community in itself.
Joesph describes Hitch as his 'side hustle' which makes me smile. The storefront is filled with items created by over 200 makers, it's colorful, soulful, a little kitschy (in the best way). Everything you touch has been made by someone who could be your neighbor, and if that's not inspiring I don't know what is. When you move to the back of the store, you have name brand designer pieces, sold on consignment - because Hitch proves that Mom and Pop shops can be handmade, and luxury all at once. Joseph's main gig has him working in the city - where he used to live with his husband Gabe. Joseph and Gabe's journeys together behind the scenes became the vehicle that brought us the Hitch we know today. They wanted to start a family, so that took them out of the city and to Babylon, which Joesph describes as a true gem of a town. They found themselves home, and in the process of adopting their sons seemingly all at once. The journey of adoption can bring any family anxiety, so Joseph found himself crafting, "We pioneered the trailer conversion," he makes clear who the true champion of this trend is, "my crafting inspired a boutique on wheels, we started in a camper, which is why we're called Hitch."
Something Joesph shares with most of the entrepreneurs is his belief in 'right place, right time' and his ability to pivot, and adapt. He was pre-med until a professor helped him realize his heart and soul was meant for a more creative work, which lead him to his main gig in Visual Merchandising. He's in charge of store's displays and their pieces (mannequins, props for windows and their floors) and you can see that expertise in the way Hitch is laid out (the window display for June was amazing). When he had to shut the doors to Hitch in 2020 he opened the floor to virtual events and sales. He didn't hesitate to reach out to anyone who would share his enthusiasm for these virtual events - which soon introduced Margaret Josephs, Real Housewife of New Jersey to the store. She co-hosted Drag Queen Bingo with him on-line and their social media following got a real quarantine treat. Her advice lead him to his consignment business, "It's time for you to sell that bag, it's your next move," she said, and now you can find top tier names in the back of this maker's shop. Curating a business based on hand-made goods leaves a lot of creative doors open, there is true excitement to that aspect of the store. Everything you walk out with is potentially one of a kind or a name brand you don't see often on Main Street, there is something for every shopper.
"You know I'm going to have to go there,"
I smile after Joesph brings up David Rose, and the beloved show Schitt's Creek. While there may not be an exact resemblance, there's big Dan Levy as David Rose vibes coming from Joesph when it comes to his shop/personality. Having Hitch on Long Island is like our own version of the Rose Apothecary - if the Apothecary was community made and independently sold goods in a creative community hub (exhale after reading that one). I've described the uniqueness for the shopper, but as a maker, Hitch is a place where your craft is wholly valued. Loyal knows Loyal, and when you bring your items to sell at Hitch yes, there is a contract, and yes, there is a desire to get your name and your products out into the hands of people who will enjoy them. Even when discussing some of the people I have met through these interviews with Joseph he excitedly tells me to get them in there, he shares that Main Street Mentality that may seem rare, but is very alive in the small business world.
Hitch's social media is entertaining, to say the least. "That's something that I may not be an expert at, but that I am pretty good at" Joseph offers as we discuss their TikTok videos and Instagram reels. They recreate funny, or not so funny, experiences that happen in the store and if you have ever worked in retail it's something you can appreciate. Their stories are typically interactive and give you a good visual catalogue into what the shop is currently offering. Joseph and his business partner were even looking into a second storefront, but at the last moment it just didn't feel right. That option is not off of the table, if the right opportunity comes along it'll happen, but for now you can find them in Babylon and follow along on-line.
During our conversation Joseph is taking calls from the city and organizing his week with his small staff at Hitch. I learn about his two sons and we talk a lot about parenting that age group (my oldest two are similar ages) - it dawns on me during our conversation that this is really why I started this blog. Last year, so many of us felt shut in, disconnected, yet when you get to know somebody you realize just how similar you could be. Here I am, asking about this great store which leads to us connecting about our oldest sons liking the same random genre of videos and video games. As I write this knowing that a certain CEO is in orbit (or is he? is he back? I honestly don't know) I passionately hope that everyone reading logs off and walks their local Main Street this week - buy the gift from a store that values the crafter and craft alike. Not to derail Joseph's interview for a soapbox moment, but there is so much out there in our backyards that offer a specialness that you can't two-day ship. Joseph's story is so similar to so many that are in business for themselves, finding that passion, making it happen, and believing in community. These elements all put together contribute to a thriving storefront even in these uncertain times. I walked out of Hitch feeling like I just caught up with an old friend, and I am excited to return often.
Hitch is located at 37 E Main Street, Babylon and can be followed on Instagram & TikTok @hitchli