SCHENECTADY — Marcella’s Appliance Center plans to renovate its Crane Street clearance center in what economic developers hope will be the latest step in revitalizing the Mont Pleasant neighborhood.
Now all owner John Marcella needs is a few more scratch-and-dent items to sell out of the store — the supply of appliances is tight after a decrease in production in early 2020 and an increase in demand in the middle of the year, both due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Marecella is keeping the clearance location open only part-time because of the limited inventory, and he said Tuesday it seemed for that reason like a good time to refresh the aesthetics.
“What we’re trying to do is put together a package to make it look good,” he said. “I have an architect and a designer and an engineer coming over tomorrow or the next day.”
The project could run in the $250,000 range, and will include a new storefront, windows, roof, signage and landscaping. The work will be done in partnership with Better Community Neighborhoods Inc. and will be supported by a $50,000 facade grant approved by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.
“This is an important business in the Crane Street corridor,” Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said.
There have been numerous efforts by the city, county, Capital Region Land Bank and Metroplex and others to improve the neighborhood, including demolition of more than 40 blighted buildings, construction of a new library branch, construction of a new Boys and Girls Club and collaboration by the Mont Pleasant Merchants Association.
The Bridge Christian Church has been investing in community projects nearby, Gillen said, and TrustCo Bank recently completed a major upgrade of its Crane Street branch, one of its oldest locations.
It’s a tapestry of small and medium-sized steps that, ideally, draws new investment and creates an improvement for the neighborhood that is larger than the sum of the parts, Gillen said.
“It’s an area that’s getting a lot of attention from the Land Bank and from us,” he said. “It’s the building blocks — this is the third facade that’s underway.”
Marcella followed his grandfather and father into the appliance business, first opening his own store in Rotterdam, then moving to 735 Crane St., and finally building a new showroom down the hill at 560 Broadway. There’s also a Clifton Park store.
The building at 810 Crane St. is over a century old, Marcella said. It was a furniture store until he bought it, about 40 years ago.
The property has served as a warehouse over the years as well as a clearance center, and Marcella plans to continue these uses.
He hopes to have more items to sell at clearance prices from 810 Crane St. once the industry recovers from the worldwide slowdown of production and supply lines last winter and many Americans’ decision to upgrade the homes where they were suddenly spending so much time this past spring and summer.
“The manufacturers are one to two to three months behind,” he said. “Most of your components come from either Korea or China,” he explained, even if the appliance itself is made in America.
“There’s the other issue: People that never used to buy something until the old one [died] now want to replace it because they don’t like the looks of it.”
Marcella said the pandemic hasn’t affected the business model.
“We really have a niche in the industry. We’re in the top 70 in the United States,” he said