Poll: The decline of big retail in Ulster County

(Photo by WIll Dendis)

It’s getting to be a regular thing: Another winter, another wave of large and/or corporate retail businesses closing in the town of Ulster, the main commercial area of Ulster County.

This year, so far, there’s Gander Outdoors, Pier One, H&M, F.Y.E. and Hot Topic. This follows past years, when Sears, J.C. Penney’s and Macy’s closed.

We notice a lot of reader interest whenever one of these announcements is made. What’s less clear is how readers feel about these closures, or more specifically, how those feelings are distributed, numerically. We thought it would be interesting to try to get a sense for this. Looking at comments, we tried to summarize and group responses into a few answers. 

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How do you feel about the ongoing (and likely future) closures of the large/corporate retail businesses in Ulster County? Pick the answer that best reflects your view.

If you can’t vote, please contact hudsonvalleyone@gmail.com and provide your answer and we’ll add it manually. 

There are 11 comments

  1. George Goodwin

    Internet sales certainly put a hurting on the stores. The nail in the coffin has been the greed of the landlords in most of these cases. Too many times I have heard that the business wanted to stay the rent became too much.

  2. Katherine Reich

    I vote for “the little guy”, the small businesses of this area that make living here special. Let the big guys (it’s the stupid corporations, stupid) get their sales on-line and compete. We’ve got artists, crafts-people, bakeries, theaters, Festivals, restaurants, breweries and producers of all kinds of stuff uniquely Ulster County. Mostly, we have all these people from around the world who come and enjoy what we, in Ulster County appreciate. They find big asphalt corporate retail somewhere else.

  3. C.Morse

    I don’t know where people are buying their gifts and clothing. Looking at stuff, feeling the quality is important to me. Now that I am forced to buy on line (or drive over 1 hour one way)I find I am often disappointed with my purchase. I have to send stuff back or not. Not good, if I had known this area would be a dead zone of retail I might have rethought my decision to live here. Buying a last minute gift is impossible.

  4. SD

    Between the internet sales , and the fact that fewer and fewer people around here have little/none disposable income, both the big box stores and the little merchant are in trouble.

  5. Dave Channon

    Shopping malls have been going extinct since they were created. They have always been a losing business model and they cannibalize each other. Plus, they have many negative impacts on the community. There are much better ways to shop, and better uses for the properties.

  6. Riley J.

    “Online Shopping” is the excuse many companies choose to use, however the actual numbers don’t support this reasoning. Many initial online brands are in fact building and/or opening brick and mortar stores across the country. And the online only businesses are in fact building infrastructure and hriing to suppor that model of business.

    The real issue, is that many closure are really the result of either outdated operating practices; high debt from old loans; a product offering that simply doesn’t meet today’s style, lifestyle, or needs; poor management; of the fact that they operate too many stores in too many locations.

    The fascinating thing here, is that Kingston (not Town of Ulster retail strip) is actually seeing a massive resurgence and growth in small, local businesses. These businesses offer things you can’t get at a chain store. They offer personal service, the offer a unique and interesting expereince. Rather than lament the loss of an Olive Garden this paper and our local residents should be celebrating the opening of at least 10 new, amazing local restuarants that are popping up throughout Kingston. We should be pushing hard to get The Kingstonian Built…to bring in residents who will buy furniture, decorate their apartments, shop and walk on our Uptown Streets. We should be pushing hard to get more Kingston hotel rooms built to bring even more tourists and
    visitors here to shop, eat, stay, and explore. We are sitting on the new generation of growth and while many good things are happening in Kingston — there’s still a strange foot dragging that if we don’t go all in, will only keep seeing more retail decline along Ulster strip.

    As for the Ulster strip, knock down the empty or outdated retail spaces, reduce the visual clutter and clean up the visual landscape, make it more attractive, make it more welcoming, and get creative…pop apartments on some of those old sites, work with the State and private investors and get a college established here, there’s so much we can do if we stop gazing backward at the IBM days…”making America great” isn’t about looking back and wishing for the old days, it’s about being bold and moving forward to recreate dying places.

  7. Ann A.

    I think that until we bring in better jobs and salaries to this area, we can complain all we want about losing retail stores. The average person with a family doesn’t have the money to shop at them any more. People shop online and in the cheapest possible places, like Walmart, Goodwill, etc., because many are struggling, often through no fault of their own. If you want to buy something nice in a store, you often have to drive to Albany. That has been true for 20+ years. Even Macy’s did not have the quality of merchandise of their other stores. They knew the area could not support it.

  8. Penny Decker

    I have seen many malls in US, Canada, Europe and Asia. Some of the malls here are failed to identify new trends and simply made their malls too large and difficult to navigate. The new Ridge Hill mall in Yonkers is an example of how malls can still be successful. It has an outdoor, open air, walkable village feel, with several separate high end and new age retail attractions and more importantly, nice eateries and bars, each area with separated, more convenient and accessible parking. Another way successful malls draw customers is to incorporate outside and inside recreation and gathering spaces, even parks and trails. There, people can do recreation and events are held. Also dogs should be allowed at the mall. Every one wants a place to walk their dog in the winter. The smells and “mistakes” can be dealt with with by using certain enzymatic cleaners. Malls have to see themselves as improving quality of life, as a destination, a place to meet others and facilitate convenient and “try on” purchases of quality goods. People, frustrated with online lack of quality will return to malls searching for quality. Malls have to ensure that quality is available.

  9. Gail V

    Dogs do not belong in Malls, or many other public places that I see people bringing them. I know it has become the trend, but I for one get angry when I’m grocery shopping or in a restaurant and see people bringing their pets. It is not necessary, leave them at home. A real service animal is a different story, but some are getting waivers for their pets as a service animal, when they truly are not.

  10. Strange Company

    My dog is “Out Of Service”.

    His name is “T-Bag” because he’s always in hot water.

    He;s 12 lbs. and will go after a bicycle because doesn’t like the wheels on the thing.

    He’s really cute, and if I needed to, I could pick up a lot of chics with him, if they’d let us in the Mall?

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