OF GOODS AND SERVICES:
Shopping malls? We don’t need no stinking shopping malls!
Not when we have downtown Saratoga Springs to suit our every
possible consumer fetish. Buy a cutesy outfit for the young’uns
at Gee Willikers, hit Borders for your best-sellers, browse
Lyrical Ballad for your rare first-edition reads, stroll into
Saratoga Soles for your highfalutin’ footwear, tap the Gap
or Banana Republic for your trendy duds. From one end to the
other (and even on the side streets in between), the retail
strip on Broadway in Saratoga Springs is jam-packed with high-end
boutiques, lower-end vintage, hippie stores, smoke shops,
bookstores and even specialty sporting goods retailers. Nowhere
will you find such a harmonious convergence of chain and locally
owned retail and eating establishments. And the best part
about it: You get to shop in a bona fide Main Street setting
in the heart of one of the prettiest, most happening downtowns
in the Capital Region.
Antiquing If You’ve Got $100,000 to Blow in a Weekend
If you’re like us, you’re not exactly in the market for a
late 18th-century Louis XVI bookcase, silver-plated water
cooler or 1800s Satsuma vase. But if you are, the city of
Hudson is the place to shop. The city is saturated with antiques
shops, most of them geared toward the well-heeled and very-well-to-do.
Antiquing on an Average Salary
Scotia and Ballston Spa
This stretch offers a plethora of antique shops, and we guarantee
that you’ll walk away with a treasure.
Unlikely Place to While Away a Saturday Afternoon
There’s no visible geographical reason for its existence—even
the trains that chug through seemingly every half-hour don’t
ever stop there. But Chatham’s teensy-weensy downtown, which
basically consists of one street, is so full of interesting
life and commerce that you can spend an entire afternoon browsing
and eating and sipping coffee and knocking back a pint and
never once wish you were someplace bigger. And if you really
do find yourself wishing you were someplace bigger, you can
always hop on the train . . . oops, no you can’t.
Musical Instrument Store
State St., Schenectady
to the max: Hermies.
Photo By John Whipple.
into Hermie’s and you’re stepping back in time. Instruments,
accessories, sheet music, books and more fill every corner
of the store, which first opened its doors in 1945. Walk slowly
and watch your head because it canget crowded in some of the
tightly packed aisles. The best thing about Hermie’s is that
you’ll always find something unusual, interesting—or just
plain outdated. With its friendly atmosphere and no-pressure
sales tactics, Hermie’s defines the term “Mom & Pop Store.”
Guitar, piano, sax, clarinet, trumpet. New or used. Whatever
you’re looking for, the folks at Hermie’s can help you get
it. The antithesis of the chain music store.
Photo by Teri Currie.
You were invited to a friend’s wedding shower/graduation/engagement
party/what have you, and you completely forgot until just
now. You have exactly four hours to find something to wear,
make yourself look pretty and—gulp!—find the perfect gift.
To make matters worse, you are a hopelessly indecisive moron.
Solution: Don’t waste your time going to the mall and
searching through the gift departments at Macy’s and Lord
and Taylor and everywhere in between. Go to Pearl Grant Richman,
where the selection is so wide and varied you really can’t
go wrong. The store is divided into specialized sections that’ll
make your shopping adventure manageable: kitchenware, barware,
artsy gifts, stuff for the pet freak, silver and china, sushi
sets, gourmet coffees, teas, candies—need we go on?
Trink 20th Century Modern Furniture
Remsen St., Cohoes
Not only does Trink have the best selection of retro, space-age
lounge furniture (displayed in a really neat, easy-to-browse
showroom setting), it also happens to have a really funky—albeit
smallish—selection of vintage clothing and accessories. Every
time we visit, we are amazed at how quickly we stumble across
a cool ’70s denim jacket, a pristine pair of saddle shoes
or 1940s wedges, vintage Levi’s jeans and cords, a fun vintage
purse. The best thing about the clothing selection at Trink:
All the items that make it to the showroom are carefully selected,
so you won’t have to sift through piles of flea-bitten merchandise
to find that one perfect, needle-in-the-haystack beautiful
Dove and Hudson Old Books
Hudson Ave., Albany
A repeat winner in the used-books category, Dove and Hudson
Old Books in downtown Albany still manages to impress us every
time we visit. It’s well stocked with both classic and modern
literature and poetry, and it’s got stacks and stacks of art
books, history books, philosophy texts and even literary criticism.
The selection is varied and often scholarly, most of the books
are in impeccable condition, and the prices are always reasonable.
To sweeten the pot, the good folks who own this shop know
their merchandise cold. Looking for a copy of Ulysses but
didn’t see one on the shelves? Hankering to read some Langston
Hughes? Want to butt heads with some postmodernist thinkers?
Ask proprietor Dan Wedge. We rarely go home disappointed.
Deja View Video
Central Ave., Albany
OK, so you won’t find 54 copies of Black Hawk Down
or Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. But you will find plenty
of other things that you wouldn’t find in your run-of-the-mill
chain video store. On a recent visit, we noted entire sections
dedicated to the work of Russ Meyer, Federico Fellini, Andy
Warhol, Ed Wood, John Waters, Kevin Smith, David Lynch and
other “cult” personalities. We found Felix the Cat cartoons,
The Endless Summer and The Endless Summer Revisited,
the Times of Harvey Milk, Torch Song Trilogy and
Chicken Hawks. We also came across the usual selection
of comedies, dramas, music videos, documentaries and new releases.
And then there’s the foreign selection—divided by shelf into
Russian, Spanish, French, French comedy, Norwegian, Danish,
German, Japanese, etc. And then, of course, there’s the back
room. It’s full of porn. Lots and lots of porn. Girl-on-girl,
guy-on-guy, girl-on-guy, two-guys-on-a-girl . . . you can
explore the variations on your own.
Central Ave., Albany
Who doesn’t love this Hannaford? It’s got the freshest produce
we’ve seen in an urban supermarket, the widest-ranging natural
foods selection this side of the Honest Weight Food Co-op
and more ethnic-food selections than any other market around.
The floors are clean, the meat is fresh, and it even offers
all-natural, free-range chicken and beef. Best of all, unlike
at another supermarket chain we could mention by name but
won’t, you won’t spend an hour in line waiting to check out
your solitary carton of milk while the cashiers talk among
themselves, customers be damned.
New Scotland Road, Bethlehem
It’s got great produce, which is huge. But it’s also got solid
meat and fish departments, lovely flowers, a good magazine
selection, fine prepared foods, a really cool sushi station,
and—wonder of wonders—polite and friendly clerks. We don’t
know what it is about service in the burbs—maybe the kids
have been told that college admissions officers circulate
secretly through the aisles checking for lapses in manners—but
whatever it is, we approve wholeheartedly.
Produce/Fresh Food Market
Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
South St., Pittsfield, Mass.
S. Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.
Folks on the Massachusetts side of our border have it lucky,
because food shopping just doesn’t get any better—or fresher.
Never mind that you also can get excellent fresh fish, all-natural
meat, scrumptious baked goods, freshly made pasta, etc.—the
produce is the centerpiece of Guido’s, and from the raspberries
to the rhubarb, from the tangerines to the tomatillos, from
the jicama to the Jerusalem artichokes, you’re going to want
to buy more than you can possibly eat before it isn’t fresh
any more—and it’s time to go back.
Market, To Market: Troy Farmer's Market.
Photo by Teri Currie.
dock and marina
someone say goat’s milk fudge? Where else can you find such
delicacies but at the Troy Farmers’ Market? Why go anywhere
else for your summer produce when this waterfront spectacle
supplies such an abundant mount of mouthwatering fruits and
vegetables? And if produce is not what you were after, there
are plenty of other treats for you to indulge in, such as
fresh-cut flowers, pottery and wool. Not to mention the music
Colvin Ave., Albany
Photo by John Whipple
through the stacked cases of beer at Oliver’s, it’s very,
very difficult not to slip into Homer Simpsonism. We’ve all
but exhausted our wills in attempts to keep from drooling
and muttering in a low, delirious moan, “Beeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrr.”
Oliver’s stocks more than 600 brands, from the standbys—yer
Buds, yer Rolling Rocks, yer Heinekens—to beer-snob faves
like Fin du Monde and Aventinus (the original weizen doppelbock!).
Offering kegs and beer paraphernalia as well, Oliver’s has
what you’re thirsty for.
Record Store (Used)
Quail St., Albany
Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Both Last Vestige locations are packed to the gills with music,
sweet music. They have tons of vinyl, the selection of which
is superb and varied. Albany’s store boasts a whole vinylicious
room full of jazz, country, folk, Irish and singles, and—mind
you, we’re still talking vinyl here—the front room is filled
with rock & roll, classic rock, garage, punk rock, folk
. . . good God, we could go on and on. Both stores have a
hefty selection of local music, plus, of course, CDs, cassettes,
videos, posters, pins—the regular trappings of a record store—all
served up by an extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff.
It’s difficult to put into words our fondness for that local
chain of stores known as Stewart’s. Its familiar facades,
welcoming staff and predictable merchandise are things we
cherish. You can buy batteries, make your own sundae and gas
up the car; or have yourself a hot dog and hang out in the
booths that serve as hubs of many local communities. The Saratoga
Springs-based business reaches far and wide in the Northeast,
and there’s at least one for every city neighborhood. Bravo
to Stewart’s for sticking around in the inner city, providing
urban inhabitants a much-needed service—and ice cream (its
own, by the way).
Central Ave., Albany
In its current location for more than two years now, Earthworld
offers every variety of comic book geek—dabbler to die-hard—everything
he could ever want, from an extensive selection of current
titles and back issues to a fine array of action figures and
trade paperbacks. If you can’t find what you’re looking for,
owner J.C. Glindmyer will find it for you. Some of the employees
even look like they’ve just stepped off the pages of a comic
book themselves. They kick ass.
Elissa Halloran Designs
Lark St., Albany
Take a look around at what people in the area are wearing
these days—jewelry, that is—and you’ll notice the distinct
style of Elisa Halloran. Whether it’s one of her signature
pieces, such as a big turquoise stone surrounded by red coral,
or something more subdued, like a spiral pendant encrusted
with mother-of-pearl beads, more and more people are turning
to Halloran when they want to accessorize. We at Metroland
are no exception. We run to her for last-minute gifts, for
the perfect pair of earrings to go with that dress, even to
adorn our bridal parties. This up-and-coming jewelry designer
has some famous customers—Soledad O’Brien, host of NBC’s weekend
Today Show, places orders regularly.
Health Food Store
Honest Weight Food Co-op
Central Ave, Albany
By far the largest contender in this category, Honest Weight
also provides the best selection. Looking for organic produce,
bulk herbs, tofu ice cream, BGH-free milk or the best cheese
selection in the area? Honest Weight has it all. Who else
shares such an outstanding commitment to local farmers, and
what other store in the area is owned by its members?
Photo by Mark Gallucci.
Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham
Faddegon’s has it all, from pond plants to topiary trees,
and the quality is amazing. For those with more exotic tastes,
it sells orchids and other unusual plants. In its gift shop,
you can find a unique gift idea any time of the year.
Greeting Card Selection
I Love Books
Delaware Ave., Delmar
So what if it doesn’t have all that many books? What I Love
Books does have is lots and lots of shelves filled with greeting
cards for all occasions. Whether you’re looking for something
wacky, wistful, somber or stylish, this cute, tchotchke-filled
bookshop has a card to fit your mood.
Little Book House
The Little Book House continues to impress those in the market
for books for young readers—both the young readers themselves
and their parents and loved ones. A committed staff ensures
quality selection, first-rate service and a genial environment
just perfect for plopping down and immersing oneself in all
the store has to offer. Staff selections are great help in
picking out presents, and the store tries hard to get young
reader authors in to speak.
Honorable Mention: I Love Books makes a strong showing
with its children’s book selection. It’s not as comfy as the
Little Book House by a long shot—cramped aisles and tall racks
make it hard to find your tyke as well as a particular section.
But the cheerful staff is always willing to help with store
geography and suggestions.
Wolf Road, Colonie
Benson’s Pet Shop
Clifton Country Road, Clifton Park
Route 50, Saratoga Springs
If a dog, cat or other furred, finned, scaled or feathered
friend is your copilot, Benson’s independent, locally owned
and operated shops are the place for all its necessities and
pleasures. Its shelves are well stocked with both major and
small, independent pet food labels (including Wellness and
Solid Gold, companies started by animal activists), vegetable
cocktail snacks for guinea pigs and hamsters, snuggly fleece-lined
Sleep-E-Sacks for small mammals, even faux-leopardskin snooze
beds for dogs. Cold-blooded creatures aren’t forgotten, with
supplies ranging from moss terraria to lizard nail clippers.
The helpful and friendly staff make shopping a pleasure.
Lyrical Ballad Bookstore
Phila St., Saratoga Springs
A bibliomaniacal labyrinth comprising more than 75,000 volumes,
including the most wonderful art-collection books, first editions,
fine literature, regional-interest books and books on horse
breeding and racing, this shop unfolds like a secret treasure
map. Discover its collection of vintage maps, from Johnson’s
map of Prussia to a plan of Philadelphia, circa 1860. You
could easily spend a whole afternoon in any one nook of this
maze of books.
Central Ave., Colonie
An eyewear boutique with a friendly environment, an experienced
staff and an abundance of designer frames to choose from.
Designer trunk shows offer you the opportunity to see the
latest fashions. So what else would you ask for? Oh, yeah—it
offers eye exams, too.
Central Ave., Colonie
Sitting around wondering where to go for some hot girl-on-girl
action? Once you realize that Bangkok is just too far away,
and the local lesbian bar is closed, your mind should turn
to Super Video. Owned by a very friendly couple, this independent
retailer offers just about any title you’re looking for. And
not just porn. It’s got more than 30,000 movies and DVDs to
choose from, along with video games and equipment rental.
If a guy were to ask you, “Where can I go for shoes?” your
first thought probably wouldn’t be a discount designer store
that has always catered to women, named after a city but situated
in a suburban mall. But this overgrown, underrated retailer
has the best selection. From dress shoes to sandals to sneakers,
it offers a pair for every occasion and taste. And if you’re
poor like we are, its prices are right. You won’t leave this
store feeling ripped off.
Community Music Store
Main St., Chatham
Too small to compete with the big boys on volume, Musica has
carved out its niche with quality of stock and service, an
unusual inventory of traditional instruments and, most impressively,
the fostering of a community music scene. Whether sponsoring
free street performances by visiting virtuosos, donating instruments
to schools or just providing space where local musicians can
hang out and jam, Musica has quickly become part of the area’s
cultural and social fabric.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Shoes are more than just accessories to the perfect dress;
they’re an art form. Saratoga Soles meets the demand for sassy,
sophisticated and sexy shoes: summery Unsindo thong sandals,
Jacqueline Levine copper netting see-through pumps, oh-so-comfy
Tommy Bahama slip-ons, the Anne Klein “Manhattan look,” definitive
wedding shoes by Caparro . . . all the styles that blend art
and comfort. Saratoga Soles also carries an assortment of
purses, tulle and silk scarves, and jeweled hairpieces for
high-level accessorizing. The friendly staff encourages customers
to bring in their dresses, whatever the occasion, in order
to help match them with just the right footwear.
Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
It’s human-scale. It’s locally owned. The staff really know
what they’re talking about—and recommending. If they don’t
have it, they’ll special order it. After all these years of
stiff competition from the big boxes, it’s still here—because
the Book House cares about people who care about books.
Bellevue Builders Supply
Duanesburg Road, Schenectady
Try this: Next time you’re in that other place, give yourself
20 minutes, and if you can’t get service, head on over to
Bellevue, where the staff prides itself on the kind of personal
attention that only a locally owned outfit seems to understand
how to give. You name it, Bellevue’s got it. And it builds
its own custom windows and doors.
Walton’s Sport Shop
Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs
If you’d rather shop where you can roll a basketball down
a 100-yard aisle and not hit a sales clerk (let alone one
who knows what he’s talking about), fine. Walton’s is neither
that large nor that bereft of helpful service. But its comfortably
sized space is stuffed with great gear for all seasons, and
local ownership means a personal touch you won’t find in a
Railroad Ave. Ext., Albany
The store might look a little disorganized, and the employees
might seem a little harried, but hey, they work for you. If
they don’t have it, they’ll find it. If you want the top of
the line, they’ll point out that a less expensive brand is
actually rated higher. Delivery is free. And if you don’t
want to pay, you don’t have to . . . well, not right away.
Mmmm, milk. Fresh, cold milk. In glass bottles. With no growth
hormones added. Cold, creamy, delicious milk. Got cake?
Golf Course (Public)
Saratoga National Golf Course
Union Ave., Saratoga Springs
This public course plays and looks like a private course in
more ways than one. The Roger Rulewich design is enough to
make a single-digit handicapper beg for mercy. This less than
2-year-old track plays like it’s been there for years, with
water or wetland in play on all 18 holes, heavily bunkered
greens and thick—we mean thick—rough. If that’s not
enough to scare you off, how about the greens fees: $110 Monday
through Wednesday, $125 Thursday through Sunday? But it’s
worth every penny, and it does include the cart. Keep an eye
out for monthly specials; tee times are accepted two weeks
in advance. A must-play for the avid golfer.
Golf Course (Private)
Mohawk Country Club
Union St., Schenectady
Where there’s a will, there’ a way. Beg a member, plead with
the pro, bribe the starter—do whatever it takes to experience
this championship-level golf course. Once you make the turn
off Union Street and head up the long driveway, you’ll feel
as though you’ve left Schenectady and entered another world.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to play on a
golf course like the pros play on, this is the closest you’ll
find around here. Lush green fairways, deep roughs, real sand
in the sand traps, water hazards strategically placed, greens
that will keep you guessing the whole round: This course requires
good “course management” skills from tee to green if you want
to score well.
Madison Ave., Albany
There are many places to buy great bikes in the area, but
there are two things which set this place apart: service and
knowledge. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist looking to
trade up to the next level or a novice buying entry-level
wheels, you’re treated with the same undivided attention.
The store will let you test-drive in Washington Park, across
the street, before you buy and will even give you a lesson
on how your bike works if you need one. It also offers bicycle
repair and maintenance classes.
Wine Shop (Shiny)
wine were a religion, this would be a church”—that’s what
it says in its marketing, and we’re believers. Aisle after
aisle, rack after rack, bottle after bottle, the selection
is incredible. If you’re looking for a rare, hard-to-find
wine, chances are that proprietor and connoisseur Craig Allen
can get it. Need a gift for a real wine snob? This is the
place, but even if you just want a quality wine for under
$10, you need look no further. All-Star boasts the most knowledgeable
and service-oriented staff in the area. Tasting rooms and
wine classes are part of the experience.
Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.
It’s not mall-big, but it’s big enough—and full of fun, creative
toys in a pleasant, kid- and adult-friendly atmosphere. Your
kids will want to make themselves at home and play for hours.
And no one will look at them funny for doing so.
Wine Shop (Dusty)
The Wine Shop
New Scotland Ave., Albany
As you walk into this great little shop, you feel as though
you’ve entered into someone’s private wine cellar. No fancy
presentation, just opened boxes sporting hand-colored signs
describing the wines’ characteristics and what food they’re
best paired with. Nice selection, very friendly service and
prices that can’t be beat. No extra charge to have the dust
Men’s Clothing Store
Christopher’s Clothing Store
If you’re in need of a wardrobe overhaul, this is the place.
Whether your style is traditional or more fashion-forward,
it’s got your look covered in a variety of colors, textures
and fabrics. Christopher’s offers custom-made shirts and a
great selection of ties, socks and accessories, and it’s also
got a very nice selection of casual clothing for your workplace’s
“dress-down” Fridays. Employees are extremely attentive, close
to overbearing, but they do know their stuff.
Women’s Clothing Store
Once a small, cramped shop in Delmar’s Delaware Plaza catering
to the working women of the Capital Region, Circles has morphed
into a Soho-esque boutique selling fashions ripped straight
from the pages of the glossies. See the Seven jeans that Jennifer
Aniston is wearing? Circles has them. See the Vivienne Tam
dress on the starlet at the Oscars? Circles has it. See the
Sigerson Morrison shoes on the runway model? Circles has them.
Proprietor Sharon Fenno is justifiably proud of her newly
renovated boutique, “a touch of Manhattan in Albany.”
Imagine a movie theater in your family room, complete with
light-blocking drapes, soundproof walls and reclining, vibrating
seating. Imagine your home completely wired up to let you
see who’s at the front door, watch the kids playing in the
back yard and check in on the sleeping newborn upstairs. Imagine
a TV so thin it looks like a picture hanging on the wall,
stereo sound so clear you’ll think you’re in the recording
studio. This is what home electronics has become, and Hippo’s
can make your imagination a reality. Incidentally, if you’re
looking for a plain old TV or DVD player, Hippo’s has those
Barnes & Noble
Pet Supply Store
All Star Wine & Spirits
Capital Wine & Liquor
Web of Threads
Woman’s Shoe Store
Saratoga Shoe Depot
Men’s Shoe Store
Saratoga Shoe Depot
DSW Shoe Warehouse
Sporting Good Store
Toys R Us
Hearth & Home
Place to Rent Porn