By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
Silhouette stickers showing the outline of Lake George have taken the region by storm.
“In the mornings, I would say 50% to 60% of the cars parked around Lake George High School belonging to teachers and students have them,” Mayor Bob Blais told The Chronicle. “They have become an extremely popular item. It’s a very interesting shape, and it’s become an extremely popular item. It’s a very interesting shape, and it’s become quite a thing. And it’s great for the lake.”
You see the silhouette on everything from T-shirts, tank tops and hoodies to golf towels, canvas bags and key rings.
But who started the craze?
Apparently Sara Pfau of Bolton, who nine years ago began using the lake shape on pendants and earrings she designs.
Hatched the idea in Switzerland
“I started creating my Lake George jewelry in the winter/spring of 2007,” Ms. Pfau said when contacted by The Chronicle.
“I had traveled to Europe and visited Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. I remember having an uncanny feeling that it was just like Lake George, and I remember feeling homesick, so I decided to make something with Lake George on it.”
After several stops and starts, “I was over-thinking it, so I just went back to some drawings I had made, got a bunch of old maps, and starting drawing the lake.”
She says her design “has evolved…There are a lot of earlier versions of the current necklace from 2008.”
When she first drew it, “I thought it was a genius idea,” she laughs. “I had no idea it would become so popular.”
Her brother Domenick and fellow Bolton resident Matt Peterson had something to do with that.
Matt & Domenick’s store, Local.
The duo — who graduated together from Bolton Central School in 2010 and from the University of South Carolina in 2014 — launched a business called Local in Bolton in 2010, built around Sara’s lake design.
“To locals, the lake logo on our products represents a place they love, where memories are made, that one place they would always rather be,” Domenick said.
He says, “In the summer of 2011 we started creating tank tops and can coolers with ‘Local’ on the front and the Lake George silhouette down the back.
“In January of 2012 we created the popular Lake George silhouette decals that you see on so many cars today.
“The following year, in 2013, the Lake George Association started producing a similar Lake George decal with their logo attached to the bottom of it. When we opened our store in 2014, nobody else was selling Lake George silhouette shirts in their stores. That following year, in 2015, everybody else joined in on the rush.
“In collaboration with Sara, we do believe our store to be the first to sell and market and popularize the Lake George decal. Our customers, the locals, know that, but not everybody does.”
They say they’ve sold more than 5,000 lake silhouette decals since early 2012.
Others liked Sara’s idea, too
Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association, says of the lake silhouette, “we have used it in our letterhead and on older logos since the 1960s,” but more recently, “we thought we should have the sticker available.”
Asked what prompted the decision, he said, “Well, there was some new jewelry coming out designed by Sara Pfau that she donated to the LGA for some fund-raisers.
“The image is so iconic and recognizable, and we figured we would print some decals. And now, a lot of other folks are doing it as well.”
The LGA’s Patrick Dowd said the lake protection group has sold more than 400 of the stickers at $5 each since first ordering them in 2013 and has less than 50 left. “We need to order more.”
Kathy Miller, who operates a business called Love Is On Lake George, sells key rings, mirrors and even tissue boxes that feature the lake’s shape.
Asked who is behind the silhouette’s surge, she said she isn’t certain but that “Sara Pfau has done necklaces for years, and it’s a beautiful symbol of the lake.”
Local, Domenick Pfau’s and Matt Peterson’s business, is situated in a storefront on Main Street in downtown Bolton, adjacent to the public parking lot across from the Lakeside Lodge and Grill.
Domenick said they “opened up in the spring of last year and have been open year-round ever since.”
Matt chimes in, “To our knowledge, we are the first to introduce the popular Lake George decal that we still sell today, and that you see so many other organizations selling variations of…In 2015, after the store’s first successful year, we saw many T-shirt shops, from Bolton Landing to Lake George Village, start selling variations of our designs. We are continually flattered.”
Both graduated Bolton & S. Carolina
At the University of South Carolina, Matt said he majored in public relations and Domenick in marketing, “so at least we can tell our parents we are putting our college educations to good use,” Matt said.
Together with Sara, they designed their first T-shirt in 2011 — “Local” logo on the front and the lake silhouette on the back.
“We started with $100 of our own money,” Domenick said. “We were selling them out of our dorm rooms and the trunks of our car.”
Matt said the silhouette of Lake George can’t be trademarked.
“You can’t trademark a naturally occurring formation,” he said. “No one can claim rights to the image of Lake George.”
He said they are in the process of trademarking their company logo, with the “L” on the lake’s silhouette. “There are a lot of imitations, but I think ours is crisp and clean, and it stands out,” Matt said.
The shop also sells Ms. Pfau’s jewelry along with sweatshirts, T-shirts, fleeces and hats with the lake logo on it.
Waitresses at the Sans Souci restaurant on Cleverdale wear “Local” shirts.
The silhouette also adorns water skis, canoe paddles and can-cooling koozies. You can buy summer smock dresses and fall fleeces, hairbrushes, cutting boards and coffee mugs.
Luzerne manufacturer’s involvement
Kathy Miller of Love Is On Lake George said she started making stainless steel key rings with the lake’s silhouette in the spring of 2014. Those have proven very popular, she said, and are made by Ketchum Manufacturing Company in Lake Luzerne.
“Gary Powers of Ketchum…produces the stainless steel key rings for us,” she said. “He developed the process that puts the permanent image on the stainless steel. Gary also laser etches the silhouette on our custom mirrors.”
Mrs. Miller said she recently had key rings made for the Yankee Boating Center and the Cleverdale Country Store.
Occasionally you’ll see the lake silhouette applied upside down on a car window by someone not quite locally tuned in.
The LGA’s Mr. Dowd says, “We joke that they do it because they know the lake flows from south to north.”
As for the popularity of the silhouette, he says, “We’re thrilled people are thinking about Lake George.”
Jewelry maker Sara Pfau also has a virtual shop on the Website etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/SaraPfau. The Website of the Bolton business Local is: www.iwearlocal.com; also facebook.com/tanktoptuesdays.
Copyright © 2016 Lone Oak Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.