Broadway is always changing, but the recent flurry of activity is somewhat unusual – there are boutiques, restaurants and businesses moving in, out, and all around Broadway.
“People around here downsize, upsize, move – everybody does that around here,” said Lorri Birmingham, owner of Raina’s, one of a few Broadway shops getting ready to relocate.
Birmingham said she is forced to move Raina’s out of 386 Broadway by News Year’s Eve. Her plan is to re-open February 1 at 380 Broadway, where Nicole Wilkie closed her shop Zola Kids this week. Wilkie, who launched her businesses two years ago, decided to close her shop to spend more time with her children. She will, however, maintain her website for online orders.
Birmingham, on the other hand, said she is losing 200 square feet in the move, and will continue to search for a space large enough to accommodate Raina’s.
“We’ve had a great year,” she said, adding that her business is more appropriately suited for an expansion. “I’ll just have to keep my ears to the ground and find a bigger space.”
In the case of Sloppy Kisses, owner Melanie Dallas has finally made the expansion she’d been planning for. Dallas relocated her dog boutique from 493 to 425 Broadway on Thursday, December 1, a move that nearly tripled the size of her store.
“I had my eyes open downtown for about a year,” Dallas said. “There were a couple stores that became available that just weren’t right, but this one was.”
Dallas said the space is “huge,” and that it will take some time to grow into. But she has big plans for the new Sloppy Kisses, including a bakery, a puppy portrait studio, and an area for “yappy hours.”
The word on the street is that Saratoga Sundress Company, currently located at 327 Broadway, will move into 493, the original Sloppy Kisses storefront.
On the east side of Broadway, Paper Dolls of Saratoga recently expanded with a move from 80 Henry Street to 438 Broadway (logon to www.saratogapublishing.com to read the article in last week’s edition of Saratoga TODAY).
In the Saratoga Marketplace, Lucia has re-opened in a larger space with an excellent view. Owner Lucy Straus moved her boutique from the small indoor shop she opened five years ago to the far more spacious Broadway storefront that previously housed Turkish Bazaar. Straus celebrated the grand re-opening on November 4.
“I had wanted to expand for a few years now. I just outgrew my [original] space,” Straus said. “It’s kind of like a move home; I always felt like my old space was temporary, and now I feel like I’m in my permanent place.”
Straus said business has been fantastic since her move, and she credits the increased visibility that the Broadway storefront offers.
“I could not be happier. I’m seeing a lot of new customers and new faces,” she said.
There is more activity in the marketplace. AGGIE’s has moved its sample section into the old Lucia store and Rory Moran (Straus’ husband) plans to open a comfort food lunch spot and catering business downstairs where Bettie’s Cakes was previously located. Moran’s venture is called Comfort Kitchen, and it will open in the spring.
New businesses have also sprung up, including Saratoga Traveler, an exclusive Tough Traveler luggage store that opened on the second floor of 360 Broadway in November (logon to www.saratogapublishing.com to read the article in last week’s edition of Saratoga TODAY).
There’s also Next Summer, a lifestyle and home goods boutique, which opened at 516 Broadway on October 28, filling the former Saratoga Mystique storefront that has been vacant since last year.
Owner Matthew Slaughter and his mother Kathy brought Next Summer to Saratoga as an extension of their seasonal location in Bolton Landing. Slaughter said he signed a four-month lease, but is confident they will extend it.
“Saratoga is a community with a design sense and I think [Next Summer] fits better here. There is a higher taste level than a lot of other areas in this region,” Slaughter said.
Although he admitted that November was slow at first, Slaughter said he was very impressed with the turnout for Black Friday and then Small Business Saturday.
Amidst all the activity on Broadway, a few businesses have also quietly slipped out. Longtime Saratoga business owner and tailor Vincenzo Montesano closed LaSartoria at 509 Broadway on October 17. Montesano, who blamed troubles with his landlord and high rent, re-opened his business on Jay Street in Schenectady.
“I left Saratoga and I want to come back, but I have to find the right spot even if I have to buy my own space,” Montesano said. He plans to stay in Schenectady but hopes to open again in Saratoga by March.
The owners of The Cupcake Lab also closed (517 Broadway) with hopes of returning in the future, which doesn’t seem to be the case for Grey Gelding (423 Broadway). Owners Jamie and Scott Beale announced the closure in September, and have since re-opened in The Hudson River Music Hall as The Gavel Grill (10 Maple Street, Hudson Falls).
There is certainly a lot happening on Broadway, but all-in-all the local business community appears unalarmed.
“I think it’s just a reflection of the way Saratoga is. We have a very special downtown, and the folks that do the best here are those that really have a niche market,” said Jeff Clark, president of the Saratoga Downtown Business Association. He pointed to Paper Dolls and Sloppy Kisses as perfect examples of businesses that have responded to their customers’ demands with their recent expansions.
“It’s terrific to see new faces and see people that have been in business for a while expanding; that’s really encouraging,” Clark said.