By Susan Elise Campbell
TOGA HERITAGE, a gift and home goods store that celebrates the history and spirit of Saratoga Springs, has moved to the “dream location” of owner Deborah DePasquale at 322 Broadway next to Congress Park.
Dreaming about it had little to do with the success of the transition. Good business planning did. Not only did DePasquale stick to her timeline of moving into a larger location right after her third year in business, but she did it at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were ready to move a year ago, but it took that long to find the right spot,” she said. “The goal was to buy something unique and possibly historic, and this was one of our top three desired locations.”
The building goes back to 1884 and was once home to Congress Theatre. The space opened up when the previous retailer, Hatsational, left the space to consolidate with another of its downtown locations.
DePasquale said the previous owner renovated the entire building interior in 2016.
TOGA HERITAGE had occupied 300 square feet while renting at 398 Broadway, but DePasquale said she could not have sustained her growing business there. The new space is approximately 1,300 square feet of storefront that takes up 322-326 Broadway.
“I got a call at the end of April, and although this really was a dream location, I did not take the decision lightly,” she said. “Everyone knew there was uncertainty ahead.”
But the virus that was shutting down so much of the local economy had also “redefined what home is,” DePasquale said. She reopened her doors on July 23.
“My company tag line is ‘love where you live’ and everything about the business encompasses my heritage of growing up in Saratoga Springs,” she said. “I put love and energy into my brand, and it is humbling to have folks embrace and celebrate what we are doing.”
DePasquale said she supports her own mission as well as the city’s “Health, History, Horses” slogan by being “a healthy shop with dedicated space where we honor the history of the purveyors who came before us.”
All merchandise is designed, curated and hand-selected by DePasquale. Each of these lifestyle products carry the TOGA logo, her “modern mark and interpretation” of the city. Often she collaborates with other local artisans to bring “unique and different things into the shop,” she said.
With Broadway stores are again open to foot traffic, DePasquale said she has observed a different kind of tourist coming into the area.
“We are not seeing the world class travelers since the track closed,” she said. “But we do see New York visitors on staycation who have never been to Saratoga Springs before, as well as those from bordering states who are allowed to come in and spend a day or a couple of nights experiencing our city.”
With the nearby Visitor’s Center closed, DePasquale has turned TOGA HERITAGE into a miniature chamber of commerce with selected pamphlets and suggested tours for her guests. The shop is open seven days a week, she is on hand at all hours, and she personally greets each guest, said DePasquale.
TOGA HERITAGE opened in 2017 and DePasquale hired her first employee in 2019. With the new storefront and ample opportunity to expand, she now has three team members and will hire more this fall, she said.
Learn more at www.togaheritage.com.
By Susan Elise Campbell