QUEENSBURY, NY (NEWS10) – Enter Aviation Mall from the entrance by Regal Cinemas, walk down the hall, past the theater and look to your right, and you will see three businesses that share something in common. Look to the other side and you will see two more.
On one side is the Play It Again DVD and Blu-Ray store; Adirondack Zombie Hunters, an airsoft and range simulation store; and MG Sales, a new face around the corner that sells overstocked and discontinued products. Further down is The Body Barre dance studio. On the other side is ax throwing studio Adirondack Ax and selfie-themed photo studio The Selfie Spot.
What connects these six companies is that none of them have corporate executives or large organizations behind them. These are all local businesses; many of them occupy spaces once occupied by chains that have closed up shop and left the mall.
“We’re right next to Regal,” said Patricia Guilder, one of MG Sales’ co-owners. “These large windows are what you can see as soon as you enter the mall.”
The storefronts Guilder is talking about were once owned by American Eagle, which operated from a position that would make its long storefronts the first thing in the mall that shoppers might see when exiting a movie. While some might wonder if being inside a building would obscure the location of the store, for them it is prime real estate.
MG Sales – combining Guilder’s surname with those of co-owners Sarah and John McClure, all of Whitehall – buys overstock goods by the pallet from businesses from Queensbury to Albany. The result is clothing shelves, a video game crate, toy shelves, beauty products and much more. And windows that once housed sharp American Eagle outfits now show chairs, tables and other big-ticket items that customers are always keen to find at a discount.
“If people are walking by and they see something they like, they’re more likely to be like, ‘Okay, what else is in there,'” said Guilder “Location is everything,” added Sarah McClure.
The business is new but not unfamiliar to Sarah and Guilder, who both have retail experience. The McClures also own and operate McClure & Sons Construction in Glens Falls. Just days after opening, MG Sales was seeing steady midday traffic on Tuesday afternoon; something that everyone benefits from.
“The mall became the best option, with additional foot traffic and the space we needed,” said Steven Greene, owner of Adirondack Ax, which moved into the mall last October. “We had an outdoor storefront when we started – and I still prefer that – but the mall was a good move overall, with a few exceptions for people looking for us outside.”
Adirondack Axe, an ax throwing attraction where visitors can take lessons and hit targets, had to move out of its original home in a plaza opposite the Queensbury Walmart, citing a disagreement with the owner. Since his arrival, the loss of a storefront visible from the road has required some adaptation, as the store’s preferred hours do not always sync with the mall’s ecosystem as a whole.
“Our hours being later than mall hours create unique situations,” Greene said. “We get a lot of calls: ‘Are you open since the malls closed?’ I hope as covid progresses, if you want, we can get back to normal.
Even so, Greene credits the mall for doing the work to signal that stores like his are there. Corporate chains like Target, Planet Fitness, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have their place, with exterior entrances. For mall manager James Griffith, local businesses such as MG Sales and Adirondack Ax are key to keeping visitors coming.
“It’s about keeping the mall vibrant,” Griffith said. “That’s what these tenants allow us to do. We are more aggressive in how we price with them. We are very communicative about how we can help them open up, anything we can do in the process. Extra things for their displays, extra tables; whatever.”
Griffith is well aware of the importance placed on supporting local businesses in communities like the greater Glens Falls/Queensbury area. As mall manager, he had to find new uses for the mall’s old big-box locations, like the former Sears — currently a COVID-19 vaccine site — and Bon Ton, now home to Olly’s Bargain. Outlet. In addition to managing the mall, Griffith also has his own role in local activities a few communities away, serving as supervisor of White Creek in Washington County.
The mall’s local businesses are not all located in the former homes of large corporations. Some are, like The Body Barre, which occupies a former Payless ShoeSource. On the other hand, The Selfie Spot operates out of the former place of business of J. Reid Menswear, a local company that recently moved to its former home on Glen Street in downtown Glens Falls.
No matter who is where, part of the future of the mall is to be part of the same ecosystem as that downtown, and those who love it, rather than exclusively the ecosystem of corporate entities that come and go. This is especially true when the entire catalogs of these department stores are fully accessible online, an option to which more and more shoppers are turning.
“National retailers have omnichannels,” Griffith said. “You can shop online or shop curbside. The things we add to the mall because they can’t order them online. It’s the same to add more entertainment; Zombie Hunters, Adirondack Axe, and The Selfie Spot are things you can’t do online. You have to come and participate. »
As the halls of the mall are scoured by more and more people looking for places like theirs, the trio behind the counter at MG Sales are feeling the benefits. As they sell and install everything from toys to TVs, they start to see some familiar faces come in to browse.
“Not only are we seeing people we haven’t seen in years,” Sarah McClure said. “We also meet new people. So many new people.