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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Books Back On Broadway? Northshire Books Considers Saratoga

By | Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The vacant building on the corner of Broadway and Division Street in downtown Saratoga Springs may not be vacant for long.


Chris Morrow, co-owner of Northshire Bookstore, based in Manchester Center, Vt., is currently looking at the former Borders Bookstore location in downtown Saratoga, where he hopes to begin outfitting a second Northshire shop as early as January of 2013.

“I’m very optimistic right now,” said Morrow, who has held several discussions with the property’s landlord to get the ball rolling. “The community seems very supportive of the idea, and it feels like there’s a lot of positive energy to make this happen. Hopefully that energy turns into something concrete.”

The family-owned, independent bookstore is hoping to fill the void left by Borders when it filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors in the spring of 2011. Located in the heart of downtown Saratoga, the 25,000-square-foot building at 395 Broadway has remained vacant ever since.

But Morrow hopes to fill that gap soon, and has been engaged with local community leaders such as Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, to discuss a possible move to the Spa City.

“Chris reached out to me about six months ago and we immediately put him in touch with a couple of downtown retailers so he could get a quick sense about the retail opportunities on Broadway,” said Shimkus. “We provided him with a pile of demographic information too, as well as population changes; we talked about some of what’s going on at GlobalFoundries, SPAC, the occupancy rates, and we discussed the various conventions and meetings hosted at the city center.”

After studying the information, Morrow said he likes what he sees.

“The demographics are favorable,” said Morrow. “There’s a strong downtown with a lot of independently owned stores; a tremendous amount of institutional assets, from the track to SPAC to, of course, Skidmore and the City Center. It’s just really, by all indicators, a town that can support a strong, community-minded, independent bookstore.”

For Shimkus, who has made regular trips out to Northshire’s Manchester Center location since 2003, it’s the fact that Northshire is a family-run, independent store that makes it a perfect fit for downtown Saratoga.

“Wherever they locate a store in the downtown here, it will become a destination. I’m just so excited because they operate like a local, family-owned bookstore – and that’s the secret to Broadway’s success,” said Shimkus. “Whether it’s businesses like G. Willikers with Linda Ambrosino, places like Impressions with Maryanne and Dave, or local restaurants like Maestro’s, they’re successful because they’re a destination on Broadway. And Northshire just really fits that profile for what has made Broadway so special.”

Sill, several hurdles remain before Morrow and Northshire Books can fully commit to Saratoga.

“Foremost, [the challenge] is raising money to make this dream come true,” Morrow announced on his company’s website. He added, “It costs a lot of money to outfit a bookstore and fill it with inventory. We have some resources to contribute to the project, but we need another chunk of money, hopefully coming from the Saratoga community’s key people that can help us over the hump to open the store.”

To that end, Shimkus and the County Chamber have arranged meetings between Morrow and other community leaders who may be willing to help the venture along.

“We’ve already told Chris that anytime he needs a place to chat or sit with his computer, we can find a place for him at our offices.”

While Morrow is currently eyeing the former Borders location, it isn’t the only space along Broadway he’s considering.

“He’s not limited to just one location if another would work within their business plan,” said Shimkus.

Northshire Bookstore was originally founded in 1976 by Morrow’s parents. The multi-storied Manchester Center shop has expanded in recent years to include a café, and offers other gift items to complement their reading selection.

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