Serving the ‘hive mind’ in Oyster Bay

Hive benefits the hamlet in variety of ways


If you’ve spent more than a little time on social media, you’ve likely heard the term “hive mind.”

“What can I do about my boss? The harder I try to get her to appreciate my work, the more she criticizes me. Asking the hive mind.”

“It’s time for me to invest in a child leash, because my toddler doesn’t care about the threat of getting hit by a car. I’m asking the hive mind: Are there any that you’ve tried that work great?”

“Found this in a consignment shop. Don’t know what it is, but I just liked it and brought it home. Asking the hive mind: What the heck is it?”

The Hive Market and Maker Space, a retail space at 100 Audrey Ave. in Oyster Bay for local artisans, opened on May 9. It asks, and answers, questions of all kinds, from the practical to the aesthetic to the artistic. In essence, it’s a circle of people who share knowledge, and are thinking and acting together in pursuit of a common purpose.

The brainchild of founder Laura Escobar and her business partner Claudine Weiler, the nascent establishment — a combined workshop, retail display and gathering space for presentations and tutorials — is making its presence known in the hamlet.

The range of offerings is impressive. There are mosaic mermaid mirrors, wire-wrapped jewelry, locally crafted sculpture made from found objects, CBD balm and much more. There’s information on edible and medicinal local plants, yoga and even how to approach the afterlife.

Everything is locally sourced and locally crafted, and the space hosts classes and workshops overseen by members of the collective market that are becoming part of the fabric of summer evenings downtown, particularly on Tuesday Cruise Nights, when visitors crowd the sidewalks.

“I’ve done two workshops there,” said Emily Frank, who does handstitched embroidery, “upcycles” clothing and sells homemade embroidery kits. “They’ve gone really well. Embroidery has evolved from your grandmother doing cross-stitch. In fact, one of my workshops is a ‘mindfulness’ workshop, where people discover that doing embroidery and learning to breathe properly while doing so can be good for their health.”

Eric Blackburn, a Sea Cliff resident who learned carpentry from his father, began studying welding and blacksmithing in 2012, and founded Prometheus Welding in 2013. “I have a small art studio in Glen Cove, and for five years I’ve shown my work at the October Mini-mart in Sea Cliff,” Blackburn said. “Hive Market helps me to show my dedication to creating the best in handmade, reclaimed and upcycled products to the community, with particular reverence for aged and reclaimed wood.”

The Hive Market business model is far from the ordinary, an elegant blending of several components, and distinct in a retail world that has seen operations ranging from consignment shops and shared offices to artists’ collectives come and go. As a membership group, it offers a shared studio in which selected artisans can work, store and display their products or give workshops and lectures on their craft. There’s a story behind everything you see there. It’s a kind of locally sourced Etsy.

The space is a natural syncing of different group concepts, an outgrowth of entities we all know and love — farmers markets, craft fairs, consignment shops and artists’ collectives. It all began when Escobar and Weiler, both local artisans, “collided” at one of the many small street craft fairs on Long Island one day in 2019.

“I’d been going to them my whole life,” Escobar said. “The fairs are a place to find something that you’ll never find a replica of anywhere — one and done. But Claudine had this passion in her heart to open a shop.”

At that point, Oyster Bay had a crafts fair at the Life Enrichment Center, but there was nothing else like it in town. Then a couple of things happened at the same time. The Main Street Association brought a farmers market into town, offering produce, eggs, clams and crafts, and with the coronavirus pandemic ostensibly winding down, business looked like it could be coming back. At the same time, a rental opportunity opened up on Audrey Avenue, in the old Railroad Museum space.

“Audrey Avenue is increasingly becoming a place in Oyster Bay for fine arts and crafts, and collectibles,” said Escobar, who’s also a member of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “I began to think maybe a shop like this would be perfect for the hamlet.”

So far, it’s looking good. Regularly scheduled classes in everything from growing a tea garden to making your own household cleansers have drawn intrigued participants. A shared quasi-opening with Bahr Gallery and the Atelier was well attended. And the range and quality of products on view at Hive Market is impressive.

And yes, there are things made from honey. Just ask Kathy Scalzo, of Glen Head, a beekeeper and gardener who offers products whose raw materials come from her own local apiaries and others in Sunnyside, Queens. She also uses backyard ingredients to create soap, shampoo and personal items that “are inspired by nature, support the environment and you.”

On July 20, Scalzo led a workshop in how to make safe household cleaning products out of household supplies instead of buying mass-marketed cleaners containing dangerous chemicals.

“Many of these products — countertop cleaners, toilet bowl fizzlers, polish for stainless steel — can be made with baking soda, vinegar, citric acid, water, a little soap, not detergent, maybe olive oil for polish,” said Scalzo, a registered dietician who’s also been a health care worker. “It’s all non-toxic and very good for you.”

It may seem a bit of a stretch to accommodate welders and tea garden growers under one roof, and for them to find common cause for cooperation and communal interaction. Not so, said Escobar, who describes Hive Market and Makers Space as a carefully curated shop.

“By sharing our skills through member-led workshops, hosting events for community groups and supporting our neighboring businesses,” she said, “we aim to be a place of cooperative activity — a hive.”

“Laura does a very good job filtering through people to find quality craftspeople that really wanted to be there, that want to make friends and really support each other, that are really excited by each other’s products and want to learn something from each other,” Emily Frank said. “It’s a wonderful community.”

Scalzo said that Hive Market is an effective way to bring people together. “Downtown Oyster Bay has so much going on — cruise nights, dance nights, and I’m so excited to be part of it,” she said. “I’m so pleased Laura loved my product and invited me to be a member. This benefits me, but it all benefits the hive.”