As malls go, Stuyvesant is a tasteful one. Sure, it’s a big horseshoe
with a vast parking lot in the middle, but it has a classy collection
of shops and restaurants, it’s pleasant to walk around, and it never
gives you that cheesy mall feeling.
We do love Saratoga Springs . . . except for the end of it that,
like in a horror movie, is being taken over by a creeping mass of
. . . MALL STORES! RUN, KIDS! You won’t find that in Great Barrington.
What you will find is several walkable blocks of independent shops,
restaurants, an excellent food co-op, a beautifully restored theater
and an art-house movie triplex right smack in the middle of it all.
Its reputation as a tony retreat for New Yorkers aside, Great Barrington
and its restaurants and shops actually run the gamut from pricey
to quite affordable. It’s only an hour’s drive from Albany—and a
lovely drive at that—so if you live here, make a day trip of it.
Thomas Men’s Apparel
Metro Park Road, Colonie
repeat winner. Mark Thomas Men’s Apparel is the place to shop in
Albany when you’ve made it, or if you’re on the way there. This
is shopping the way it should be: A relaxed high-end, high-quality
men’s clothing store where the customer is treated like a family
member. Owner Mark Goldfarb and partner Tom Fagan have created an
atmosphere that harkens back to another era. Experience the joy
of trying on a Pal Zileri suit. It is like sitting in a new Mercedes
Benz. Once you shop at Mark Thomas, say goodbye to Macy’s.
Women’s Boutique (Day to Night)
Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.
a Metroland fashion-shoot secret: Our models go gaga over
the clothes submitted by Main Street. So much so, that we fear a
catfight over who gets to wear which darling dress by MM Couture
by Miss Me, or which up-to-the-minute Barami suit. So much so, that,
rumor has it, they make the hour-long trek west to spend the big
bucks they made posing and voguing in this ultra-charming retail
oasis. Hot labels and dazzling styles that appeal to women of all
ages and pocketbooks; bonus points for power bags and unique jewelry.
Women’s Boutique (Funky)
Colvin Ave., Albany; 13 2nd St., Troy
shopping is as “tired” as last year’s low-rise jeans. If you’re
longing to be “OMG fierce,” Some Girls Boutique continues to be
the dream store for you. The two Capital Region stores carry of-the-moment
clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories from names like Bizz, See
You Monday, Miss Me Shoes, and Oboe—pieces that are as original
and one-of-a-kind as you are, and as late Some Girls founder Diva
DeLoayza. Diva’s love of fun, quirky one-of-a-kind style and discerning
eye lives on through the staff and great boutiques. You go, Ms.
optician: buenau’s opticians.
Delaware Ave., Delmar
pronounced “bee-news,” they really should be called ¡Buenos! That’s
exactly what your experience will be from the minute you through
the door. MB, Jeff, Roz, Faith and company love what they do, and
are more then happy to help you pick just the right pair of glasses
to frame your face. They also have the ultra-cool Smart Mirror,
a computerized camera that allows you to visualize your appearance
in frame selections—very cutting-edge. Buenau’s is muy bueno!
Lark St., Albany
know, we know—been there, done that. But seriously, is there any
competition to Elissa Halloran’s individualistic, often quirky and
always quality baubles? Hers are the pieces that warrant notice,
from Lark Street to Park Avenue (believe us). Halloran’s talent
and range have grown with her business, and her spanking brand new
digs suitably showcase her prowess with amazonite, rhodonite, and
fresh water pearls.
Madison Ave., Albany
tatties? That’s all you’re gonna get here. Tattoo shops have been
popping up like weeds over the past few years, but this one was
opened by four well-known area artists, all under the age of 30!
DPL is a truly impressive shop, chock full of ridiculous talent.
Plus, it doubles as an art gallery from time to time.
Effect Tattooing, 460 Broadway, Troy
Demers is the man. Ask anyone.
the years, Hippo’s has retreated from being a something-for-everyone
electronics store and concentrated on what they do best: Selling
high- quality electronic entertainment systems with an emphasis
on knowledge, service, and expert installation. If you want it done
right, Hippo’s is for you. If you want it done on the cheap, they’ll
just send you to Best Buy.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs
keep things fresh, like the flowers, My Favorite Things has evolved
and is blossoming in the downtown marketplace of beautiful, historic
Saratoga. Still maintaining their space in Albany as a work studio,
Chris Grigas and Donald Matthews continue to awe and inspire with
their innovative and ever-so-pleasing floral design. This dynamic
duo continues to take the area by storm, one bouquet at a time.
Today Saratoga, tomorrow the world!
Art Supply Store
Fuller Road, Albany
and forever our favorite, Arlene’s is your local Willy Wonka’s Chocolate
Factory for the artist crowd. You name it: easels, canvas (stretched
or by the yard), aisles and aisles of brushes, paints and palates,
inks, pastels, artisan papers, technical pens, templates, printing
blocks, clays, wire—everything you need to make your art come true.
They’ll even help you make it look great when it’s done, with the
assistance of their custom framing department and the largest variety
of open-stock mat board in the area. Their selection, prices and
knowledgeable staff can’t be beat.
Central Ave., Albany; 1020-1030 Barrett St., Schenectady
reporters. Sometimes we need to go undercover; sometimes we need
to throw an opulent masquerade ball. Whatever we’re up to, when
it comes to finding a proper costume for the occasion, this is where
we do it. They have a huge selection (they’re one of the country’s
top costume companies), offering wigs, makeup, prosthetics, costumes,
rentals and accessories. So watch out—that nun with plastic nun
chucks, space boots, and a handlebar moustache just might be a Metroland
Book House wins every year because, well, they have a wide (and
smart) selection of books in almost every genre and format. Their
staff is knowledgable and helpful, and the overall experience is
relaxing. FYI: Rumor has it that, come fall, they will have outlasted
yet another of the big chain stores. You just can’t beat ’em.
Little Book House
your favorite little lit-lover, the Little Book House right next
door offers the best of the best in children’s literature, education
and fun. With a perfect balance of classic and contemporary books
for the kiddos, the knowledgeable and staff will help you or your
little reader find just the right book. All in a fanciful atmosphere
that should remind even the stuffiest grown-ups that books are a
magical, colorful wonderland.
bookstore (antiquarian): lyrical ballad bookstore.
Phila St., Saratoga Springs
you want to get lost in time, then wander through the underground
vault that is Lyrical Ballad. They have a wide selection of antiquarian
books, maps and ephemera, including the vaunted locked room of first
editions. No “day out” in Saratoga is complete without a visit.
Bookstore (Time Warp)
Delaware Ave., Albany
we love the new-fangled technologies, the nanobots and all that.
But sometimes we wax nostalgic for the bright familiarity of days
gone by. And when we do, I Love Books is the only place to get our
book and nostalgia fix. Yes, it’s a bookstore, and a good one at
that, but it’s also one-stop shopping a la a 1950s pharmacy (just
with books instead of codeine). Their selection of toys and gifts
is fantastically kitchy, their jewelry artistic, and their greeting
cards selection is one of the best around. They even have big glass
jars full of candy sticks. Go on, be a kid again.
Used Bookstore (Bohemian)
& Hudson Books
Hudson Ave., Albany
always something new-old at Dove & Hudson, a literary hipster’s
oasis in Albany’s Center Square neighborhood. Their selection is
top-notch—probably because they’re so selective about what the buy
Used Bookstore (Selection and Value)
Troy Schenectady Road, Latham
Riggs has stocked his spacious used-book store to the gills with
a huge selection of volumes for his bibliophile clientele, and he’s
priced the books to move, so the stock is always changing. Antiquarian
and foreign- language volumes, literature, reference, cookbooks,
how-to manuals, history, cinema, gardening, sci-fi, cookbooks, drama,
it’s all there. And he has one of the best selections of used kids’
books we’ve seen. Last time we were there we picked up an Arabic
typing manual and a hardbound 1961 edition of Winnie the Pooh.
We love this place.
Comic Book Store
Fulton St., Troy
is a comic-book shop for people who actually like to read comics.
Yes, people still do that these days, because many comics are well-written
satires of modern culture. And if you don’t buy that line take a
trip to Aqui and ask for a recommendation or two. You will be hooked
on the latest edgy series from Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Brian
Wood, Robert Kirkman or Geoff Johns. Aqui also offers weekly tournaments
for gamers, and it’s is in close proximity to other businesses that
help sustain them (like Shalimar and First Choice).
Record Store (Shopping)
Vestige Music Shop
Quail St. Albany
the only game in town. And it’s awesomer than 52 FYEs combined.
Record Store (Hangout)
River St., Troy
is your dad’s record store, but your dad is Jim Barrett, and Barrett
is cool. He’s been cool longer than most of you’ve been alive. And
just like him, his shop is laid-back and casual, and welcoming to
anyone who just wants to hang out or browse.
Central Ave. Albany
for an Icepick shirt, maybe a Stigmata hoodie, or a Section 8 CD?
Punk Rock Reptile has swept in to offer a hearty selection of punk,
hardcore and metal apparel, as well as hard to find discs and scary
movies. Their wardrobe racks make us salivate like we’re 12 years
old again, hanging out at Music Shack. Word has it they also have
the occasional live show.
Pet Supply Store
Wolf Road, Albany; 12 Fire Road, Clifton park; 3083 Route 50, Saratoga
Springs; 118 Quaker Road, Queensbury
sure do love our pets, and when it comes time to shop for food,
toys, and assorted supplies, this is where we do it. Benson’s offers
a huge selection of pet needs for fish, reptiles, birds, small mammals,
cats and dogs. Their pet-food supply is unbeatable, offering a premium
array of healthy, natural and organic lines, and nutritional supplements.
Is Bubbles a finicky eater, terrified of thunderstorms? Does Mr.
Biscuits pee on your carpet or demolish toys? The knowledgeable
staff will help you find the perfect foods, toys, treats and behavioral
aids for your precious (or problem) pet. And their rewards program
offers you future savings for every dollar you spend.
Antique Store (Upscale)
River St., Troy
know how some houses are full of antiques and they just feel cluttered
and old, and some houses have that perfect antique treasure to highlight
their contemporary, bohemian décor? Well, Living Room owner Elizabeth
Young will help you shape your house into the latter, pairing her
eclectic selection of exquisite antiques, with her interior design
services. Young has a truly artistic eye, and a step into her shop
with prove it.
Antique Store (Eclectic)
Route 9W, West Coxsackie
you’re looking for something, but you don’t know exactly what, you
can probably find it here. With antiques available from 100 dealers,
this 15,000-square-foot warehouse has something for everyone: vintage
clothes, war memorabilia, furniture, toys, jewelry, records, books,
gadgets, you name it. Come prepared to rummage; that’s half the
Main St., Chatham
jewelry and accessories, cards, kitchenware. . . . It’s almost a
mini-department store with a gift-shop feel, artfully arranged,
easy to navigate, with lots of eye-catching stuff to stop you on
the way. The kind of store you pop into to buy a birthday card and
end up browsing for a half-hour, forgetting the card but leaving
with a bagful of other things.
River St., Troy
newcomer to the downtown Troy boutique scene, the Paper Sparrow
has already carved a distinct niche for itself, and become a huge
hit with Trojan shoppers. The bright shop is stocked with a wide
array of handcrafted items: jewelry, handbags, baby clothes, soaps,
artwork, toys, home décor, even local honey. Meticulously selected
from the works of local and national artisans by proprietor Kate
Eggleston (whose handiwork makes up much of the stock), the merchandise
is contemporary, artistic and distinctive. Eggleston presents monthly
exhibits by local artists in the shop’s back-room gallery, and even
offers classes for those inspired to explore their own creative
streak. If you’re on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind gift for that
hard-to-buy-for someone, or just a special treasure for yourself—this
is the place to find it.
Madison Ave., Albany
perennial favorite, the Downtube offers all your cycling needs,
whether you’re headed down a mountain or down the highway. Downtube’s
knowledgeable staff will help you find the perfect ride—they’ll
even let you take a test-drive through Washington park. And once
you’ve found the bike of your dreams, they’ll help you fit it just
right, and suit you up with all the best accessories. Need a tune-up?
The Downtube offers extensive repair and maintenance services, as
well as classes so you can care for your two-wheeled baby at home
or on the road.
Wine Store (Selection and Price)
knew Brad Junco was itching to display and sell more wine that his
great little store in Center Square could handle, and when he moved
into his spacious new quarters in the Target plaza—wow. Wine as
far as the eye can see—and carefully chosen wine at that. Best of
all for the consumer, Junco seems to have started a pricing trend
that has everybody lowering their markups to keep decent wine affordable.
Wine Store (Service and Knowledge)
Pittsfield Road, Lenox, Mass.
that there are two other locations as well—in the villages of Lenox
and Stockbridge—but this is the location where owner Jim Nejaime
seems to be found most often, and he sets a high standard of service
and knowledge for his staff to aspire to. There is hardly a bottle
in the store he doesn’t know, his descriptions of the wine’s style
are concise, not cliched, and—best of all—if you visit with any
regularity, he remembers what you like and makes suggestions
Wine Store (Personality)
New Scotland Ave., Albany
cozy shop is the place to go for a great $10 bottle of ice-cold
Spanish sparkling wine—or a $90 bottle of exquisite French Champagne.
A neighborhood institution, the Wine Shop has a small, but carefully
chosen, selection of wines, liquors and liqueurs at all price levels.
There are bottles lining the walls from floor to ceiling, and the
friendly owners will help you find just what you’re looking for.
Wine store (New York)
Wine Seller at Harmony House Market Place
Remsen St., Cohoes
global, drink local. That’s our motto. And there’s no better place
to stock up on local wines than at the Wine Seller at Harmony House
Market Place, a pivotal part of Remsen Street’s ongoing renaissance.
The Wine Seller stocks more than 350 labels, all of them from New
York state wineries. Proprietors Jane LaCivita Clemente and Diane
Conroy LaCivita offer their friendly expertise, along with monthly
exhibits by local artists, and wine tastings every Friday. Last
Friday we happily tasted a wine made from indigenous New York grapes—and
then drank a bottle of it at home.
Premium Cigar Shoppe
Central Ave, Albany; 426 State St., Schenectady; Parade Ground Village,
at Habana has had a busy year: He opened a beautiful Downtown Schenectady
location, with a fourth location in East Greenbush due to open in
late August; he also hosts The Good Life on talk-radio station
1300 AM, every Saturday afternoon. With all this going on, he still
manages to kick back, do some “research,” and indulge in one of
life’s best pleasures: a cigar. His own, and his staff’s, knowledge
of product is unparalleled, with price and flavor to satisfy any
favorite of the roll-your-own crowd, because the selection is outstanding
and the staff are very customer-oriented and knowledgeable about
all things tobacco-related—they’ll even fix your lighter if you
ask. They also have a good selection of imported cigarettes.
for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy
Cerone Commercial Drive, Albany
you know that when you make an appointment at the Center for Natural
Wellness School of Massage Therapy, you not only get a fantastic
one-hour massage at a reasonable rate, but you help improve the
skills of very talented, fledgling massage-therapy students? It’s
true! The CFNW isn’t just a full- or part-time school for those
looking to embark on a more tactile career; it’s a breeding ground
for eager future “magic hands.” Take advantage of them while they’re
still hungry. Your body, and the students, will thank you.
Wellness Day Trip
Center for Yoga and Health
Interlaken Road, Stockbridge, Mass.
over the mountain and through the woods (sort of) is a peaceful
oasis, the kind of hideaway it’s easy to miss, even if you’re a
regular at nearby Tanglewood. Appropriately located at the top of
a big hill overlooking Stockbridge Bowl, Kripalu is sort of like
a pinnacle of wellness, offering classes in yoga, pilates, dance,
drumming, and a plethora of “who knew?” opportunities such as The
Spirit of India: a Bollywood and Henna Workshop and The Universal
Experience: An Intimate Encounter with Your Own Death. The fellow
partakers of all that Kripalu has to offer run the gamut from crunchy
Birkenstockers to the Kate Spade doggy bag-carrying ladies who lunch.
All, presumably, stock up not just on the spiritual benefits to
be had, but the highly nutritious and amazingly yummy buffet.
holistic/wellness store: peaceful inspirations.
Kenwood Ave., Delmar
metaphysical journey is a long one. So many questions, so much to
ponder. But Anne at Peaceful Inspirations can help you get from
here to there, wherever “there” may be. And if you’ve already reached
enlightenment, why not celebrate and treat yourself to a nice gift?
Drums, books (for you and your children), fair-trade items, and
jewelry are only a small sampling of the many earthly pleasures
you can indulge in here.
Fresh Food Market
South St., Pittsfield, Mass.; 760 S. Main St., Great Barrington,
you get to the Berkshires but have never checked out either of the
two Guido’s locations. you owe it to yourself to see why we pick
this market year after year. Bigger and more comprehensive that
a neighborhood market, but more relaxing and human-scale than a
contemporary supermarket, Guido’s dazzles with all manner of dependably
fresh produce, as well as fresh fish, all-natural meats, bakery
bread and other fresh baked goods, a deli counter, and aisles of
thoughtfully chosen, minimally processed packaged foods. There’s
no other market quite like Guido’s in the region, which is why it
is loved by locals and weekenders alike.
Western Ave., Albany
you need flax-seed-oil supplements, some gluten-free food, or perhaps
an ounce of mugwort, check out Paradise Natural Foods. They have
a great selection of all things natural, including supplements,
health and beauty products, foods, teas, and herbs. They’ve been
open for almost two decades and have a friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Weight Food Co-Op
Central Ave., Albany
the natural and organic items one could imagine stock the shelves
at Honest Weight, as they have for years and years. Their selection
of juices, for one thing, goes unparalleled in the Capital Region;
and they stock loads of items from within a 100-mile radius of Albany.
Also: great sandwiches.
farmers market: troy waterfront farmers market.
Waterfront Farmers Market
Park Place, River Street, Troy
is the perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday morning: shopping for
fresh produce and baked goods, discovering unique specialty items,
listening to live musicians, and chatting with friends. The Capital
Region offers a large selection of fantastic farmers’ markets, but
what makes Troy’s so special is the large, diverse community that
has grown dependent upon this year-round treasure.
Learned St., Albany
the Warehouse is more than just an indoor farmers market and it
is constantly growing and evolving. It’s the perfect weekend destination,
rain or shine, to get inspired, hear some live music, grab a bite,
support local artisans, or just plain ol’ connect and absorb some
of those good vibrations that accompany cool people doing cool things.
Vendors range from architectural salvage to sexy, vintage-style,
custom-built aprons; from beeswax products to Tarot-card readings,
and everything in between. Bring your lover, bring your neighbor,
bring the kids—heck, bring the dog! You’ll be delighted you did.