The Capital Region's "good stores"

the good target in Latham.jpg

Where's the "good Target?"

By Kaitlin Resler

There are a lot of chain stores with multiple outlets here in the Capital Region. Some of them seem to have branches every three feet. While most of these outlets are very similar, often times it's pretty easy to figure out which is "the good store."

Here's a quick look of some of my picks for "the good stores" in the Capital Region, and what makes them so good.

Take a look and add your favorite "good store" to the list.

Macy's
The good Macy's in Colonie.jpg
AOA has talked about this one before. In the debate over the quality of the area's two biggest malls -- Colonie Center (nicer, better lighting, play areas) and Crossgates (some better stores, fancy new escalator) -- Macy's is an undeniable plus for Colonie Center. It's widely known as "The Good Macy's" partly because it's larger all around (three floors, more extensive shoe department), but it also carries brands that the Crossgates Macy's (despite it's superior hosiery collection) doesn't even dream of.

Target
The good target (sm).jpg
I am at Target a lot. I was once recognized by a Target employee (from a Target not in my immediate city) at a non-Target function 60 miles away. It seems that the Latham Target might be the best. It's near T.J. Max (yay!) isn't overly-crowded, has those weird giant red round thingies outside, and is usually well-stocked. It also carries the Target GO collections (Albany, Clifton Park, and Saratoga do as well--Niskayuna does not) and features a Starbucks in the Target Cafe (weird concept, but, you know).

Price Chopper
The good chopper latham.jpg
It's easy to point out the not-so-awesome Price Choppers', but which one might be considered the best? I think Latham wins here, too. The store is huge, and it's 24/7.

Hannaford
Grocery stores are tricky, but for its produce section the Wolf Road locations seems to me to be the best Hannaford. It's also near the fancier mall, and the McDonald's with the nugget sauce pump -- but you know...

Marshall's
marshalls_clifton_parksm.jpg
Marshall's Home Goods in Clifton Park is pretty awesome. Not only is the aptly named home goods section quite good, but their shoe section is pretty spot-on for women AND men (men's isn't quite as big, but it's still pretty good).

Gap
This one is tricky. Crossgates Gap is huge -- it spans basically the entire hallway near JC Penny -- but does tend to run out of key items quickly. Colonie's store is a good back-up, though.

Banana Republic
I always forget there are two of these. Saratoga's Broadway store is big, well-lit, and loaded with merchandise. That said, somehow the sales in that location are not totally amazing. The Crossgates store, besides being in the somewhat isolated end of the mall, has a better sale section and is totally packed during the holidays.

Old Navy
While we're dealing with Banana and Gap, why not think about the third dude in that triumvirate of stores? I don't hear much about The Good Old Navy location, but from personal experience I'd throw the Niskayuna location in on that one. It's not located in a regular mall, so it's huge, but in the summer the flip-flop wall isn't apocalyptically disorganized and again, their sale section is a big-time winner. Plus, it's next to a Barnes & Noble.

H&M
The good H&M in Crossgates.jpg
While Wilton's H&M is enormous, neat, and quiet, it has no men's section. A gigantic kid's section, but no men's, which is a problem. Crossgate's men's section is quite good (I think it competes well with the humongous H&M in Holyoke Mall), by just about any standards, and the women's selection is occasionally pumped up by items from the H&M Trend line (the pricey ones with the pink tag) that are returned from swankier branches of the store.

Barnes & Noble
They are few and far-between. Albany, Niskayuna, Saratoga/Wilton. Back in the day everyone was all about the stand-alone B&N on Wolf Road -- it's now holding on to Colonie Center. I think it's bigger than the old one, but somehow doesn't seem quite as looming when it's attached to the mall. Decent magazine section, and an epic cafe area that has cheesecake, scones, bagels, and lots of other snacks. There is also a Criterion Collection section in the DVDs which is a little pretentious, but fun anyway. The main debate still seems to be Borders vs. B&N.

Borders
Something bad happened to the Albany Border's. Let's not talk about it, it is depressing. Saratoga's location seems quite good though, large, with the upstairs music section still intact and a really big stationary and gift section behind the cash wraps.

Sephora
There are two! Colonie Center's wins -- the other is located in JC Penny in Crossgates. It's a bit smaller and you can't use your Beauty Inside card there (you have to call customer service later and have points added manually), while Colonie Center's branch is large and in charge. Sometimes they run out of my favorite eyeliner on the weekends, but for the most part they're better stocked and have more associates to grab what you need.

Moe's
If I can't go to Bomber's, Moe's is pretty neat. Clifton Park's branch is cleanest and fastest -- the Wolf Road location almost always seems to have an improbable line.

McDonald's
Wolf Road -- besides being fancy and having strange fireplaces, they have a pump of sweet & sour sauce (most places make you ask for it, and pay for extra), and a variety of seating. No play-place though, which is a bummer.

Comments

I give my vote to the Slingerlands' P-chops. This is largely because it's one of the only places I can find Old World Provisions products, now that they've shuttered their retail shop.

The Marshall's in Mohawk Commons is pretty sweet too.

I'm surprised Stewart's didn't make it to the list.... They seem to be on every other corner....

I'll partially second the Slingerlands Price Chopper only for the Bill and Ben's Deli contained within, but really my heart belongs to the Westgate Price Chopper for the fantastic, amazing four aisles of terrific ethnic foods. I never fail to get pulled in and have found you can get great prices on spices in the Hispanic food aisle.

Also, if you go to that deli on a Monday morning, you are typical called "honey, beautiful, darling" etc. by both male and female workers and they practically *force* you to try a sample of what you are ordering.

I totally disagree with you that the Latham Price Chopper is the best. Sure, i guess if you're into a wide selection of items that are usually in stock, a clean store, surrounding sidewalks that are shoveled within a week of a storm and are not filled with people asking me for bus money, employees who don't talk on their cell phone while checking out customers, items ringing up correctly at checkout, a customer service line that takes less than half an hour, cashiers who know how to bag and don't put your milk and laundry detergent in one single bag while they double-bag the crumb cake that is the only other thing you bought this morning, shelves that don't have expired food, produce that is still its traditional color, a staffing policy that doesn't involved having two cashiers during the busiest times of the day and six at all others, no teenagers (presumably late to their classes at the school across the street) getting into fist fights while waiting in line in front of you, and baskets being readily available at the entrance, then I guess the Latham store's not bad.

Me, I'll stick with my friendly neighborhood Delaware Avenue branch.

I've been shopping at the Latham Target so long I think one without a Starbucks is weird. While my wife and daughters look at conditioners and what-not, I duck in for an cafe Americano. Works for me!

My favorite Pricechopper is the one in Brunswick. It's got 99% of what Latham has to offer (no sushi bar) and it's usually less crowded. And the parking lot isn't as obnoxious to get in & out of.

Never been in a Gap in my life. That probably makes me a traitor to my generation, but I see no reason to start now.

I am surprised you did not mention that the Macy's in Colonie Center is the only "original" Macy's in the area. All the other Macy's are conversions from Filene's. I rememember when they actually built that part of Macy's in an expansion of Colonie Center back in the early 90s.

i second my favorite price chopper as the one in brunswick...i drove all the way out there to do my grocery shopping last weekend. i guess it could have something to do with my originally being from there & the affection i feel for the area, but i think it has more to do with the store itself.

As a Latham-ite, I completely disagree with the Latham PC being the best one. I cant say it better than Bill, but the place is flat-out dirty. Dirty outside, dirty inside...and from the months of October-April, there's always piles of trash in the parking lot....and if you take the back way out, onto Old Loudon Road, that little strip of land between Price Chopper and the apartments has so much trash it looks like the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.

Now, Im not a PC fan, by any mean (find them dirty and overpriced), but the one in Slingerlands is nice, the Westgate one has an awesome international section, and the new one on Central (near 155) is also head and shoulders above the Latham one.

Latham Target, however, is the bee's knees.

I think the best Price Chopper has to be in Malta. I work in Saratoga and always grocery shop here on my way home. It's way bigger than Latham, open 24 hours, and is immaculate and usually very quiet.

It's still no Wegman's though :(

Another vote for the Slingerlands P-Chop as "overall" best ... however, to spin off Rebecca's comment, anyone notice that the organic (and ethnic) food section(s) are seriously lacking in the suburban stores?

@CapHwys - before Filene's converted to Macy's, there was a Filene's AND a Macy's in Crossgates. I do think the Colonie Center Macy's was first, though.

The Saratoga Price Chopper on Ballston Avenue is way better. Brand new and is the first to carry a lot of the products the grocer is trying out.

Also, I believe most of the large PChop's (CP, Latham, Saratoga, etc) are open 24 hours.

I know it's unpopular to give Walmart much love but I would say for grocery shopping the best one is in Crossgates Commons. It's huge and they have fresh pizza dough, awesome mini french loaves (exactly what I wanted to put Po-Boys on during Marti Gras), and a decent international section (only place I've found canned shitaki mushrooms though they don't seem to stock them any more, which is a shame). They also have a great homegoods section that seems to have more variety than a regular Walmart. Their craft section is weird though, kind of exploded onto two different floors and three different sections so for that I would go to the East Greenbush one.

The Michaels over there is also great. It's older than the one in Latham but larger and with less "trendy" crafts. If you want to do cross stitch don't bother with the Latham store, head here.

Also worth mentioning even though it isn't a chain, the new Asian Supermarket on Central near Grandma's is by far and away the best in the area. It's clean, well stocked and it has English labels, making it better than the ones I found in NYC's Chinatown as well.

For what it's worth, I think the Clifton Park Price Chopper is better than the Latham one.

Slingerlands PChops for the win.

Also, what about Wal-Mart? I like Glenmont.

I loooove the Slingerlands Price Chopper because they give out slices of bread in the bakery with a tub of butter next to it. Great way to not buy everything in the store due to SWS (shopping while starving)

Maybe this doesn't count as the Capitol Region, but the BEST Hannaford, hands down, is in Valatie, NY on rt. 9. No comparison.

I'm surprised Wal-Mart wasn't discussed. In which case the WM in Crossgates Commons is the "good one" for me.

I'm going to vibrantly vote for the Slingerland's PC as well. It has those magical, wonderful, need-to-steal half shopping carts!

Love this post...I'm a stickler for finding the best stores and I entirely agree with Kaitlin! Feeling validated...heh.

The Walmart at Crossgates Commons always smells like fried chicken (at least downstairs) and it takes forever to check-out. It's hard to find stuff, like lightbulbs, that could theoretically be located on either floor. Their produce is awful... try finding me a banana that isn't green or brown.

Yet I shop there anyway because I cannot resist their prices on paper towels and shampoo. Trust me, if I made more money I would not voluntarily shop at Walmart.

The grocery stores are going to be contentious.

I throw my hat in the ring for the Westgate Price Chopper (hard to beat the selection), and Latham Hannaford (I hear an angelic choir when I walk in to the produce).

They're not chains, but I'd like to see a roundup of people's "best" wine/liquor shops. My neighborhood shop is the one in the Delaware Plaza in Delmar -- the place is smallish but the staff is awesome. I used to like All Star but I'm almost never in Latham for anything other than a depressing slice of suburbanity, so Empire does the trick for price and selection.

I second Empire Wine and Liquor for my favorite (though I always check BJ's first if I have time when I'm over there).

And for favorite beer store I'd say either outpost of Oliver's, though the one on Western tends to be a little less overpicked.

Unfortunately the good Borders and the good Barnes and Noble (both formerly-stand-alone stores on Wolf Road) had to go attach themselves to malls, which I think changes the atmosphere inside the store. They are less like a library and more like... a mall.

Surprised I haven't seen it mentioned, but I'd say the Price Chopper in Troy across from HVCC is the best. The Latham location has an incredible cheese and prepared foods section, but the opposite end of the store gets crazy bottlenecks around the freezer section, and the cereal aisle is strangely narrow. Plus it always seems busy and dirty. One of the reasons I perfer Hannaford over PCs is because the locations are more consistent.

Maybe this is my cynical side, but I'd love to see a "bad" stores list! Even though the Cohoes Price Chopper is so close by, I avoid it like the plague. I'm not sure how it compares to the notorious Delaware Ave. branch, but it has to come close.

Paul nailed it on the chain book stores. They were much better than the ones in the malls. True, I rarely bought anything but coffee there (maybe that's why they closed), but they were much nicer then.

@Ryan: They just remodeled the frozen section at the Latham PC a couple weeks ago. Now instead of one humongous aisle with the open-air freezer in the middle, they have one and a half aisles that are more reasonably sized but still a bit wider than your usual aisle. The other half aisle is the new cereal/bread/coffee section. And they also redid the dairy aisle so that it's all closed doors like the frozen section.

And I've been in the Cohoes PC exactly once. I have no idea how that place manages to stay open.

The Latham Chopper is always insanely busy, same for the one in Clifton Park.

A PUMP for SWEET AND SOUR sauce? How could I have not known about this for all these years?

This is truly wonderful news.
McDonald's french fries are heaven.
And there is something so wrong, yet so right, in slathering them in sweet and sour sauce. That sauce, which by the way, is the only redeeming factor of chicken nuggets.

Bless you for bringing this to my attention.

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