Black Friday is fast approaching, and the mood in Saratoga Springs is cautiously optimistic. Yesterday I briefly chatted with Marc Strauss, of Mabou memory, while strolling through the Downtown Marketplace, the closest thing to a department store in the city. He owns the place, and the largest retailer in it, Pangea. Marc commented that business was picking up, and if the next six weeks held up as expected, it would be a good year. This sentiments were echoed by other merchants on Broadway.
The rate of sales tax collections as presented by the Finance Commissioner last week are also pointing to a steady pace of business.
Is this extensive to the whole of the Capital area? Not according to Mr. Strauss: “We have built a moat around Saratoga Springs.”
The metaphor is bit too defensive for my taste, redolent of Maginot line rhetoric. But it points to the fact that Saratoga Springs downtown has built a business model that seems to hold up in these lean times. Residents complain that nothing of their everyday needs is being offered on Broadway, that the trade is geared towards the tourist, the transient, the visitor. Still we meet acquaintances and friends every day strolling on Broadway, either to do banking, sip coffee, have a meal or on the way to somewhere else.
Maybe Saratoga Springs can be modeled on what Germany has been doing in the world economy. With strong unions, high labor costs and an extensive social network Germany has outcompeted its way to becoming the second exporter in the world (after China). How? By concentrating of educating its population, and enabling them to produce real material goods known by quality and advanced design that can command a premium in world markets. Can Saratoga become a premium destination by offering a unique shopping experience in quality and design?
Parking is still mainly a summer issue. Nowadays open slots along Broadway’s sidewalks are easy to find, sometimes even right in front of our destinations. Should the City move to some form of paid parking? This is not a question that should be deferred, because any finite resource in growing demand needs some form of allocation method. It can be done intelligently and the Downtown Business Association should participate in its design and administration. Surely offering parking facilities close to their storefronts is in the merchants’ interest.
The Beginning of the End.
5 years ago