Road and Western Avenue, Albany
dirty little secret of malls and shopping centers today is that
many of them aren’t “one-stop” retail destinations anymore; what’s
more soul-crushing than having to cruise multiple malls on one shopping
jaunt? This isn’t an issue with Stuyvesant Plaza, which has a broad
retail mix from clothing and toys to books and wine; there’s even
a U.S. Post Office. Stuyvesant’s restaurants offer everything from
gourmet dining to comfort food to grab-and-go bagels and snacks.
And it’s pleasant to walk, from one end to the other, on a sunny
Barrington may have the only downtown around where you can spend
an entire afternoon browsing cool, interesting shops—and not stumble
into any chains.
Car-Free Shopping Ex
Car-Free Shopping Experience
Street . . . Schenectady’s biggest little street.” We at Metroland
are big fans of the Electric City, in particular, this charming
street. Where Schenectady is being reborn gracefully, Jay Street
has always been cool. There are so many businesses to patronize,
and all without the hassle of the pesky automobile. Hear live music,
do or see some art, eat great food, buy cool stuff: It’s all right
here on this little big street.
Men’s Clothing: Mark Thomas Men’s Apparel.
Thomas Men’s Apparel
Metro Park Drive, Colonie
to look like a model in GQ? Than what are you waiting for? Mark
Thomas is the best men’s clothing store in the region. Buying a
good suit is a necessity of life. When you go to Mark Thomas Men’s
Clothing it is like seeing a specialist. Whether it is your first
suit or your 20th, Mark Goldfarb and Tom Fagan will treat you like
you are the most important customer they ever had. They dress the
top judges, lawyers, doctors, basketball coaches and professionals
in our region. Suits start at $299 and all tailoring/alterations
are free. So experience one of the greatest joys a man can have.
Let Mark Thomas fit you in a new Pal Zileri, Corneliani or Jack
Victor suit. Also, an amazing collection of men’s sporty clothing,
shoes and accessories.
Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.
Saiid Daemi packs his boutique, a former bank, with just the right
mix of all- and special-occasion dresses and separates, specializing
in small fashion houses like MM Couture and the unexpectedly edgy,
like Barami. A solid collection of funky handbags, perfect for weekending
in either Soho or Nantucket, well-priced jewelry and accessories
like belts, scarves and sunglasses, and fashion forward shoes, including
Madden Girl, make this a veritable one-stop place to shop.
Lark St., Albany
Halloran is a perennial winner, for good reason. Her store, which
is like a salon for thoughtful and eclectic shoppers, is chock full
of Halloran’s own designs, often featuring strong-shaped stones
and beads, all eye-catching, and a smaller array of well-chosen
pieces by other distinctive artists working in upstate New York.
Then, too, there are the giftwares, everything from framed art to
china to tchotchkes, and an ever-changing selection of good vintage
and consignment pieces. Halloran does custom work, too, and repairs,
and is generally known as one of the most gracious business owners
in the Lark Street area, making a trip to her shop like a visit
with a cherished friend.
Bloom at Schuyler Pond
Route 29E, Saratoga Springs
on Earth is My Favorite Things? Oh, they’re around . . . and better
than ever. Like the elusive monarch butterfly, MFT has morphed yet
again into something even more beautiful! This time they’ve landed
in southern Saratoga reinvented as In Bloom at Schuyler Pond. Make
no bones, the wonder twins, Chris Grigas and Donald Matthews continue
to dazzle with their flora delights in a setting that’s as inspiring
as their work. Serving the Capital Region, from a table for two
to a full-on crowd, they’re always a pleaser.
Delaware Ave., Delmar
family-owned-and-operated business since 1915, family is exactly
what you feel like when you enter Buenau’s Opticians. MB, Jeff,
Ros and company project their good energy and their love for what
they do on you to give you the most pleasant experience, service
and selection possible. Specializing in hard-to-fit patients, they
offer individualized service at competitive prices. They can’t be
beat. Go see for yourself.
Art Supply Store
Fuller Road, Albany
and forever our favorite. With everything from watercolors to washi
available at reasonable prices—they stock more than 40,000 in the
Albany store—Arlene’s is an artist’s wonderland. A veteran artist
is sure to find the perfect armature or additive, the novice can
count on expert guidance from the skilled staff. Everyone who wanders
in is sure to find something to fuel their creative urges.
these days of digital photography, it’s easy to horde photos on
hard drives or post them to Flickr and forget about them. But, just
like the family photos of generations gone by, your photos are treasures—memories
made tangible, moments and perceptions trapped in time. So skip
the instant photo kiosk and trust them.
River St., Troy
quality is an understatement for the fine arts services provided
by Digital Artist’s Space. Aside from having a top-notch Epson printer,
co-founders Karen Schlesinger and Chris Jordan have extensive knowledge
of the printing process itself. Both graduates of RIT, they bring
tech-savy art sensibility to the services they provide. You can
choose from several fine papers, including silk or cotton fabrics.
Print as large as 44 inches wide, generally unlimited length, archival.
They offer high resolution negative scanning from 35mm up to large
format; adjustments and retouching are available. The space is also
a gallery, showcasing local art on a regular basis and actively
participating in Troy Night Out. Workshops in Photoshop or Alternative
Digital Printing are offered, and you can work with your own files.
Truly, this is a great space for artists.
you won’t find your top-of-the-line digital SLR camera here, you
will find a more than adequate supply of accessories for it. Stuyvesant
has hard-to-find supplies to complement your professional gear.
Before ordering a part online, see if Stuyvesant has it first. You
might be pleasantly surprised. Find studio lighting pins, hot shoes,
reflector tables, and light stands. They also have a complete range
of dark room supplies and offer instant passports, film processing
and video transfer service. The staff is extremely helpful and won’t
hesitate to offer relevant advice or demonstrate equipment for you.
Stuyvesant Photo is a small space with big finds.
House of Stuyvesant Plaza
perennial favorite, the Book House is a bookworm’s paradise. With
an enthusiastic and well-read staff overseeing a careful and compelling
selection, this place just can’t be beat.
Little Book House
are a window into infinite realms of wonder and wisdom, and the
folks at the Little Book House make reading as enchanting for the
little ones as it is essential.
Troy Schenectady Road, Latham
don’t mind if our used books show a few scars from the love of readers
past. What we want in a used bookstore is a vast and varied selection
that offers a good chance of either finding what you came looking
for, something you forgot you’d been looking for, or something unexpectedly
captivating. We also like prices that practically guarantee you’ll
walk out the door with at least one new-to-you volume. This place
is all that.
Phila St., Saratoga Springs
perennial fave. We love old stuff; especially nice old stuff that’s
valuable. You can get lost in time here as you peruse the many books,
maps and ephemera, with a surprise waiting around every corner.
And of course, there’s the crown jewel of the store’s collection,
the locked room of first editions.
Fulton St., Troy
the folks who frequent them, your friendly neighborhood comic shop
is more than just a store. It is a haven for comic geeks—from the
pimply kid in the foam Hulk hands to the closeted professional hiding
the Wolverine T-shirt under his oxford button down. At Aquilonia,
Bob Lupe and crew have honed the haven to perfection. This place
is like a community center for fanboys. Whether you’re there to
debate what dead superhero will become a Black Lantern or discover
something new, the knowledgeable staff and vast selection are sure
Vestige Music Shop
Quail St., Albany
heaven in the heart of Albany’s college neighborhood. Want to have
your mind blown? Go to their Web site (lastvestige.com) and check
out the text-only master list of their LP stock. If you’re looking
for a first pressing of ELP’s Tarkus, or the Association’s
eponymous long-player with the original Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
green label, they’ve got ’em! Better yet, drop in and browse their
huge collection of LPs, 45s, CDs, DVDs and other, more esoteric
fare. Get some new needles for that Victrola while you’re there,
Sheet Music Store
Arcade, 432 State St., Schenectady
Electric City institution is the place to get the sheet music of
songs and scores in every genre, from Diane Warren to Stephen Sondheim
to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and everything in between. They carry
a substantial in-house inventory, but can also order anything that’s
available. The service is friendly and, more important, knowledgeable.
Musical Instrument Store
Route 9, Clifton Park
is still our favorite place to go when we need a serious gear fix.
They offer a wide selection of top brands and a laid-back atmosphere
to try them all out in. Add to that great service and competitive
prices, and, really, what more do you need?
the Warehouse Albany Flea
Learned St., Albany
a new bazaar in town: At the Warehouse Albany Flea offers 10,000
square feet of everything under the sun. Inside browse to the tune
of live music, sign up for a Yoga class, or grab a bite from local,
specialty food vendors. You’ll find jams, pickles, honey and more.
The warehouse is a mixed bag of used books, vintage jewelry, clothing,
and stained glass. It’s loaded with great local art, crafts, potted
plants, and salvaged local building pieces. Outside is an unusual
assortment of garden statues and go-carts. Stone tables and chairs
are showcased in old, iron fences. If you look closely, you might
find the entire merry-go-round that resides in pieces scattered
throughout the property. The warehouse is both people and pet friendly,
so bring Fido along; Salvage, the warehouse cat, won’t mind. It’s
the prrrfect Sunday venue.
State Route 9W, West Coxackie
for the faint of heart (or those with severe dust allergies), this
15,000-square-foot antiques warehouse brings 100 vendors under one
roof for a single antiques superstore where browsers can lose themselves
for hours exploring everything from fine furniture to eclectic collectibles.
Albany Foundation Architectural Parts Warehouse
Lexington Ave., Albany
Capital Region is teeming with historic architecture, and the folks
at Historic Albany Foundation are dedicated to preserving it whenever
they can. For two decades, their Architectural Parts Warehouse has
stocked an inventory of salvaged and donated architectural “parts”
of historic significance—doors and windows, tubs, moldings, fixtures,
hardware, mantles, keys—the supply is a do-it-yourselfer’s dream,
and an artist’s inspiration. The not-for-profit warehouse keeps
the fine craftsmanship of days gone by out of the landfills and
in area homes where the trappings and treasures belong.
Antique District When Furnishing Your Condo
antique district that has flourished along River Street in downtown
Troy offers fantastic finds for the discerning deal hunter.
Antique District When Furnishing Your Chalet
you want a $36,000 dining room set from France circa the 1760s,
then this strip of world-class antiques dealers lining Warren Street
is the place for you.
Main St., Chatham
Pie is becoming somewhat of an institution in Columbia County. And
like most institutions, it’s easier to get in to than out of. At
least without an armful of their dazzling and often funky array
of gifts, cards, kitchenware, jewelry, edibles and wearables.
Pet Supply Store
Wolf Road, Albany; 12 Fire Road, Clifton park; 3083 Route 50, Saratoga
Springs; 118 Quaker Road, Queensbury
just doesn’t get better than Benson’s for your favorite furry friend
(or feathered, finned or scaled). Whether you’re looking for a nutritious
diet or supplement, a spiffy new home, or the perfect toy, training
aid, or wonder cleaner, the folks at Benson’s probably have what
you’re looking for. And pets of all sorts are welcome in the aisles,
so Baron Von Weiner can pick out his own birthday treat.
Kitchen Supply Store: Different Drummer’s Kitchen.
Kitchen Supply Store
Plaza; 374 Pittsfield Road, Lenox, Mass.
bakeware, dinnerware, cutlery, kitchen tools, cookbooks . . . They
have just about everything you can imagine, and best of all, it’s
good-quality merchandise at reasonable prices. If you love to cook,
you’ll love this store.
chains they come and go, but Hippo’s stands firm as the region’s
best stop for high-quality home electronics with an emphasis on
service and installation. You can get it done cheaper—but not better.
Madison Ave., Albany
up for a big bike race? Ditching your car and commuting to work
by bike? Going out for a weekend ride with the family? If you’re
looking for the best in customer service, mechanical abilities,
and quality selection (including Trek, Gary Fisher and Seven Cycles),
you’ll find none better or more knowledgeable than Eric and his
staff at the Downtube Cycle Shop. Stop in and see why they win Best
Bike Shop year after year.
3rd St., Troy
15 Trinity Place, Albany
you bent a rim or broke a chain and don’t have the dough to drop
on professional maintenance or the know-how to fix it yourself.
All is not lost. The bike rescue, with a satellite branch in Albany,
won’t just fix it up with the parts they have lying around, they’ll
teach you how to do it yourself. Additionally, the volunteer-run
program gives free bikes to kids, organizes games of bike polo,
sponsors film screenings, and generally fights the good fight for
a more bike-friendly city.
Kenwood Ave., Delmar
we’re still all on that metaphysical journey. . . . Best to explore
one’s options while on this long path. Anne at Peaceful Inspirations
is always super-knowledgeable and more than happy to guide you through
an impressive array of books and accompaniments designed to help
you on that quest. Enlightenment not your pleasure? Fair trade gifts
from many cultures, as well as locally made items are also available
at this stop.
Madison Ave., Albany
like all that other ego stuff, shouldn’t mean much to those on the
spiritual path, but it’s still nice to get recognized. And Heartspace
is certainly deserving. Offering anusara, kripalu, jivamukti, pilates,
a variety of healing arts, and periodic kirtan, the studio makes
its small space go a very long way. They recently won our Readers’
Picks poll, so we know we’re not alone in this.
Central Ave., Albany; 2330 Watt St., Schenectady
is one of those highly subjective categories—what if nobody on the
committee is working out? But for those who have been toiling away
over the years, it’s often a matter of following the instructors.
And good hours, affordable rates, attractive mix of classes, and
ample room for weightlifting. OK—there’s a lot that goes into finding
that one gym that makes you want to keep up with your fitness resolutions,
and around these parts, that’s Best Fitness. With several locations,
attention to details like cleanliness and recruiting inspiring instructors,
and nifty packages and bonus opportunities, Best is your ticket
to a better, fitter you.
Wine Store (Price)
repeat winner, Empire Wine keeps the prices affordable (on the liquor
too) and the selection huge. You can’t miss here.
Wine Store (Selection)
Plaza Liquor Store
longtime fave of many locals before the explosion of fancy new wine
stores, Delaware Plaza Liquors is worth a revisit—considering the
modest size of the place, the selection therein is expertly chosen
and truly remarkable.
Beer Store: Oliver’s Beverage Center.
Colvin Ave., Albany
someone starts boasting the 1,000-plus beers they have in stock,
Oliver’s “over 999 different brands” is going to reign supreme in
these parts. The Brew Crew calls itself a “beverage center,” but
who are they kidding? This place is a warehouse full of beer. And
for that we are thankful (and thirsty).
Premium Cigar Shoppe
Central Ave., Albany; 528 North Greenbush Rd. (Rt. 4), North Greenbush
believe that owner Scott Bendett is infusing his love for his trade
into all the cigars and tobacco he sells and, for that reason, Habana
Premium Cigar Shoppes are so good. No matter your fancy or the extent
of your knowledge, Scott and staff aim to please and love to help.
Don’t forget to check out Scott’s radio show and all their events
Bakery (Bread): Perreca’s Bakery.
N. Jay St., Schenectady
bread like it oughtta be: Crusty on the outside, chewy and delicious
on the inside. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve always baked it
in coal-fired ovens. Doesn’t matter; the bread is sublime.
Italia Pasticceria has been a fixture in the Downtown Schenectady
resurgence since it opened its doors and hearts to the community
in 2005 (it previously was in Rotterdam for 40 years). This is the
perfect location to sit back with a cappuccino on a rainy day, get
some pastries for a dinner party, order a cake for that special
event or grab some lunch, complete with homemade gelato! With a
modern Italian flair and a nod to old world charm and service, right
down to those waxy little European napkins, you’d swear you’re in
Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, Mass.
several-generation family business with roots in New York City,
Catherine’s Chocolates has been in the Berkshires now for something
like 50 years. Try the many chocolates and cookies and—especially—the
mouth-watering fudge. If you like homemade choclates, this stuff
is to die for.
Edible Art Gallery
Lark St., Albany
not just that the gelato and dessert tarts are such a treat—it’s
the care that Claudia Crisan and husband Ignatius Calabria put into
them, so that not a false note is sounded in any of their confections.
Everything looks spectacular, and when you see Claudia’s spun sugar
creations, you’ll understand how deliciously evanescent art can
Fresh Food Market
St., Pittsfield, Mass.; 760 S. Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.
perennial winner, largely for having the best selection of outstanding
produce around, but also for the bakery, fish market, all-natural
meat market, eclectic selection of packaged foods, etc. A one-of-a-kind
. . . make that two-of-a-kind market.
Asian Food Market
Central Ave., Albany
puts the bazaar back in bazaar. One part discount food store (who
can beat $2 bottles of soy and ponzu sauce?) and one part hall of
oddities (dig the shoes, bootleg Hong Kong films, and creepy fish
case), with a little bit of courage, this is the go-to spot for
lotus paste dumplings, fried gluten balls, and plenty of other imported
delectables hiding behind inscrutable labels.
Deli & Caterer
Union Ave., Schenectady
RULES! ‘Nough said.
Meat (Traditional Cuts)
Delaware Ave., Albany
back corner of this exceptional neighborhood market features an
old-school butcher operation—with one important new-school feature,
all-natural meats. Watch as they cut and beautifully prepare and
your meat to order. All the usual beef, pork, chicken, lamb and
veal, as well as rabbit and homemade sausages. For a good deal,
try one of the combo packages.
this market is by no means just a place to buy your meats—the store
offers cheeses and chocolates and grains and veggies aplenty—the
variety of exotic meats is what we think is fantastic. Game antelope,
bison, caribou, boar, elk, gator, crocadile, llama, snake, rabbit,
turtle. Many of God’s creatures can be found at this specialty store,
ground or as a filet.
Waterfront Farmers Market
is a surplus of farmers’ markets to choose from in the Capital Region,
and each has its own charm and practical value. Out of all of these,
however, the farmers’ market in Troy stands alone in variety of
selection and consistency of vendors. And now, with the Tight Knit
crafters’ market up on Broadway offering the best of artisans’ wares,
Saturday mornings in downtown Troy are a great family friendly place
to be. After you finish at the market, you can while away your afternoon
on the deck of Brown’s enjoying the Capital Region’s best fresh-brewed
Weight Food Co-op
Central Ave., Albany
love Honest Weight more than ever (and we’re going to love them
even more when they have a bigger space and a nicer café!). Special
kudos for their ever-increasing commitment to stocking regionally
grown and made foods.
Theoretical Food Co-Op
Community Food Co-Op
been waiting for years for the fabled co-op in downtown Troy. Downtown
Troy needs a grocery store. The board of the co-op has been working
hard, applying for grants and loans for years, and trying to meet
the 1,000-member mark they need to take to the banks. And we have
our fingers crossed. We want to believe that it is going to happen,
but we’re getting hungry.