By Maureen Werther
Downtown Saratoga Springs in the 1970s was a different place than what it is today. Shop owners and business people were vacating the historic buildings that lined Broadway in favor of shopping malls and corporate business parks.
Today, the city has thriving downtown community, which has become a destination for people.
Mark and Elizabeth Straus are two of the entrepreneurs who became involved in the restoration of downtown architecture. They purchased and restored buildings, including 454 Broadway, known today as the Saratoga Marketplace. It is home to more than a dozen eclectic shops, galleries and eateries offering an assortment of gifts for people doing their holiday shopping.
The shops are situated on either side of an open staircase, connecting two floors and offering a cozy indoor shopping experience. The restored woodwork and hardwood floors are complimented by exposed brick walls.
Finds is a store owned by New York City native Isaac Rodriguez. It carries overstock and sample items directly from design houses. Shoppers can find classics like Diane von Furstenberg and Ralph Lauren, to new designers like Robert Graham, Walter Baker and American Vintage.
Rodriguez opened Finds in April, relocating from New York City. His inventory changes weekly. Coats, dresses, men’s designer shirts and ties are among the inventory.
Lucia, established in 2006 by Lucy Moran, is a boutique that features a selection of brands, bohemian jewelry and other gifts. Moran controls the creative direction, giving the store a curated and cohesive feel. From a hand-carved Indian mirror frame, to the original exposed brick and sparkling chandeliers, the interior of the store offers a New York City-type flair.
Lucia has everything from graphic tees, to dressy dresses, glam jewelry, warm outerwear and accessories for the winter months. Their are fresh brands like For Love & Lemons, Chaser, Vanessa Mooney, Knot Sisters, BLANKNYC, and Astr.
Lex & Cleo is a shop for gifts for infants. Finding a special gift for a new baby is always a challenge. It is locally owned and globally focused. It offers clothing and bedding made with ultra soft na
tural materials from brands that use environmentally sustainable practices.
One of their most popular sellers are blankets and “cuddlers” from Little Giraffe, which makes satin-trimmed deluxe soft fabrics for newborns. The Little Unicorn line offers muslin bedding and swaddling blankets. It recently added the Freshly Picked line of baby shoes.
Lex & Cleo carries a line of toys from the Danish designer, Maileg, inspired from storybook characters.
Pangea is a gift and home furnishings shop in the marketplace, offering gifts in fine leathers and carved woods. There is jewelry designed by artisans from across the county as well as across the equator. In time for the holiday season, owner Elizabeth Straus brought in a selection of Advent calendars, imported from Coppenrath in Germany.
Other finds include vintage Prohibition-style cocktail sets, as well as a curated collection of books. Pangea is also a source for New Yorker post cards, holiday greeting cards and everyday note cards.
Paper Dolls of Saratoga opened in Saratoga Marketplace in April. Owner Cora Burns and designer Alyssa Menshausen said they enjoy the new location of the
stationary and gift store. It specializes in designing and printing custom-made cards for holidays, parties, weddings and special occasions.
Paper Dolls also offers a large assortment of ready-made cards and stationery, as well as gift items from local entrepreneurs. They currently feature Toga, a local line of gifts from designer and event planner Deborah Depasquale.
In addition to regular shop hours, Paper Dolls works with clients by appointment. Visit the website firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Stephanie Syracusa owns a new shoe and boot boutique, Stephanie Anne’s, in the marketplace. She opened shop in August. Her line of shoes and boots hail from local designers and from makers of Italian leather boots and shoes.
In preparation for the holiday season, Stephanie Anne’s has a line of boots in velvet, suede and leather. The store also carries an assortment of winter boots from Italy that are as stylish and chic.
Mango Tree Imports moved into the Marketplace two years ago, after eight years in the village of Ballston Spa. Its goal of “bringing the world into your home through fair trade” is evident in the items in the shop for home and kitchen. All their inventory is handmade and sustainable. Owners Kim and Chris Anderson source their items from emerging artists in the developing world.
In addition to home décor gifts, there is an array of handmade scarves, jewelry, organic chocolate and gifts for children. In time for the holidays, there are Peruvian nativity sets handmade from clay, ceramics or wood-carved from local artisans.
A flight down the staircase of Saratoga Marketplace gives customers a feast for the eyes, as well as the palette.
Local artists, both well-known and up-and-coming, have converged to form an “art alley” of sorts, in one location.
Notable painters, photographers and sculptors such as Frankie Flores, Rebecca Kane, David Hill, and a rotating roster of guest artists, line both sides of the Marketplace with displays of work in the galleries.
If all the browsing, trying on dresses and shoes, and selecting gifts makes customers hungry, there is the Comfort Kitchen located toward the rear of the marketplace.
Comfort Kitchen offers American food that is locally sourced, seasonally inspired and prepared in a casual yet cozy setting. Collaborative in philosophy and implementation, Comfort Kitchen creates seasonal menus using food produced in Upstate New York farms and compliments it with locally produced wines and beers.
The menu is always changing and there are daily specials.
Bella and Lindy, Saratoga’s Pet Boutique is a place to shop for pets during the holiday season.
The stores offerings range from outfits from Chewnel’s or Sniffany’s, to glam collars, leashes a coat for a walk about town and treats from locally owned Lazy Dog.
For more information about the shops at Saratoga Marketplace, visit www.saratogamarketplace.com.