Friends Caroline Corrigan and Katy Smith planned for years to open a business in downtown Albany. They had a couple different ideas -- including an urban grocery. But they ultimately ended up in the Delaware Ave neighborhood with a modern home goods shop: Fort Orange General Store. It's grand opening is today.
"We wanted to open something that was needed in the neighborhood it was in, and we thought about what Albany still doesn't have," Corrigan said. "Since we are connected to the art community, and both of us make stuff, this made sense."
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Both lovers of Albany, Corrigan and Smith were willing to consider multiple locations for this business. "We had talked about business ideas that would work for the Lark Street neighborhood initially, but when we saw the space open up on Delaware, we jumped at the chance. The proximity to the Spectrum and New World Bistro was a safe bet for lots of foot traffic."
What was it about the Delaware Ave neighborhood specifically? Said Corrigan: "This neighborhood has a really great mix of cultures, ages, income levels and types of businesses, all working together. We're happy to be part of it. The neighborhood has been very welcoming to us. In general, it's a strong community that is very supportive of small business and neighbors drop in all the time to check in!"
Fort Orange General Store is stocking "modern home goods and accessories: stationary, accessories, kitchen items, natural beauty and apothecary items for men and women, and all sorts of curiosities." The focus is on curating products with good quality and design.
"These products are made by an artist in their studio. For almost every item we carry we can tell you exactly where it came from and the story behind it" said Smith. In addition to other artist's goods, Fort Orange General Store will also be carrying some of the cards and notebooks that Corrigan makes and the fabric goods -- such as coasters and napkins -- that Smith makes. Over time they're planning to expand the "house made" Fort Orange offerings.
On a recent visit the prices seemed reasonable for a boutique shop, but it's very different from shopping at a big box store like Target. When asked how they'll compete, Corrigan responded, "People will come to Fort Orange because we aren't a big box store! We offer items are that are a little different and special. It's a great place to buy a thoughtful gift. If you care about where your products are coming from, and about investing in local business, this is a great place for you."
In our disposable culture, I also appreciated the sentiment of purchasing goods that will stand the test of time. "Of course there's a cheaper version [of these items]. But will it last? Will your daughter try to steal the jewelry pieces when she goes away to college?" said Smith.
While the grand opening is this Friday, May 9, Fort Orange General Store has been open to test the waters over the past week. "A lot of people that have come in are responding positively that we're here. There's a sense of relief, because Albany needs a place like this," Corrigan said.
Corrigan and Smith are also supportive of other local, urban businesses. "The more, the merrier!," said Corrigan. "This is a great time for small business. Real estate is available and affordable. And I think people are realizing how important it is to have local business and support the community we live and work in. Albany is a special place in that it really is possible to do these things."
Smith added: "If you have a good idea, now's a good time to do it."
Lauren writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.
Fort Orange General Store
296 Delaware Avenue
Albany, NY 12209
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