The famous and successful Elda Zulick of Grist Mill Reality and I spent a recent afternoon chatting about the changing face of Saugerties, now decorated with Dancing Tulips, Happy Paws, Love Bites and Diamond Mills. Some longstanding businesses that have endured the changing times are still with us.
The Furniture Mart, with three floors of furnishings, will satisfy anyone’s taste. It’s still successful in a world of malls filled with the latest in home décor. No high-pressure salespersons, just a great place to stroll at your leisure, with a countless selection.
Montano’s Shoe Store, which has been in business for over 100 years, is not staffed by its fourth generation. These are not just shoe salespersons. The staff in knowledgeable and will fit you to assure you will have footwear that is totally comfortable.
The Exchange Hotel on the corner has been in the Buono family for over 90 years. A great place to meet, greet, eat and tip, it’s the only place in town that boasts that its phone booth still works.
Smith Hardware, now in its fifth generation, doesn’t just sell you a product, but will explain it if you have a question. Rick or Sharon, with their great knowledge, give you hints or even send you somewhere else if they cannot accommodate your needs. In addition the place was Saugerties’ first art gallery, open 24-7 year-round thanks to the talented Angela.
The Main Street Restaurant is still in the same location, but now boasts beer signs in the window and the fare a bit more Mexican in flavor.
Frank’s Fine Jewelry has been a family business for over 40 years. It has a great selection of fine jewelry. The entire family are specialists in one field or another: watchmakers, gemologist, silversmiths. They can design a personal piece to order. Frank, along with his mother and wife Sherri, are not only shopowners, they are a part of the flavor that makes up Saugerties.
H.L. Snyder and Sons, a third-generation family owned business, has been serving up appliances and repairs for over 80 years. Before we had home freezers, we rented frozen-food lockers, useful for serving families buying in bulk or when we butch
ered pigs and other farm creatures.
And from yesterday’s world, here are some of the movers, shakers, shopkeepers and purveyors that lived and served in a town noted for the sawyer who put it on the map.
The Flower Garden owned by Joe Benjamin, florist extraordinaire, truant officer and a great, friendly guy. This shop would make your wedding arrangements or your bereavement, with personal care. He was concerned about you more than your payment. The name remains, it is now on the other side of town.
Boo’s Tavern, down the hill, a local pub, run by a warm, friendly guy. When you walked in the door, Boo himself would greet you and make you feel like he had been waiting for you to arrive.
Sammy Gilmore’s served up penny candy when it was a youthful treat and truly cost just pennies.
Frank Buono’s barbershop gave a great cut and good conversation. He was a kind, gentle guy, willing to stick his hand in his pocket whenever there was a need.
The Hunting Lodge served beer and great pizza. It’s been around long enough to have been raided during Prohibition.
Rinaldi’s Meat Market made specialty cuts to your order, no amount too small, wrapped up in brown paper, tied up with string.
Amrod’s Department Store was a place you could browse at your leisure. If you found a jacket that you think might fit your child, you could take it home. If it fit, you would come back the next day and pay for it. That unique business policy apparently worked.
Lachmann’s Bakery was owned and operated by Kathy and Ralph. It was the kind of place where they remembered your regular order and got it started when you walked in the door.
London’s Department Store, where Mr. London himself was always on duty. He kept up with the latest in styles of the day.
The Fancy Flea was a shop full of knicks and knacks, with Joan Keefe’s friendly smile. She was a good citizen of the world, with genuine concern for the town of Saugerties.
Bills Corner Store. if you needed it, Bill had it. Maybe not soup to nuts, but everything in between.
There are more which will have to wait until another day and time. I am sure there will be those who may enlighten me for the next segment. I want to thank Elda for her input to this pieced-together business history of Saugerties. I couldn’t have done it without her.
I have heard it said that Saugerties rocks. I think it rolls, too.