SCHENECTADY — The Costumer will be moving its Colonie operations to Schenectady and opening a new retail store at Mohawk Harbor.
Co-owner Erik Johnsen said Wednesday the move will increase efficiency by consolidating operations in the city where The Costumer was founded 104 years ago.
But the decision was driven more by the desire to be part of the multi-use community on the Mohawk River waterfront, and the new space offers some great opportunities.
“Expect to see some big changes when we hit harborside,” he said.
Target date for opening is Aug. 1, well ahead of the two biggest aspects of the Costumer’s business model: School plays and seasonal celebrations. Erik and Bonnie Johnsen have big hopes for both this year, after a slow 2020.
The Costumer now operates in three locations:
- 1020-1030 Barrett St. in Schenectady, which is corporate headquarters, a small retail space and warehouse for the 160,000 costumes available for rent;
- 1031 Barrett St., which is warehouse space;
- 1995 Central Ave. in Colonie, which is the retail superstore and fulfillment center for e-commerce activity.
The plan calls for:
- 1995 Central to close;
- 1020-1030 Barrett to expand its warehouse space and shrink its retail profile;
- 1031 Barrett to become the e-commerce fulfillment office;
- And Mohawk Harbor to host the new superstore, roughly the same size as the existing Colonie store about 7,000 square feet.
The project cost isn’t known yet, Johnsen said, as contracts are not finalized, but aside from Mohawk Harbor, almost all the work to be done will be out of public view.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority on Wednesday approved $210,000 in funding for the project.
The new operation will bring Mohawk Harbor close to full occupancy, said David Buicko, CEO of the Galesi Group, developer of the riverfront property.
The restaurants on site — Druthers and The Shaker & Vine — have been operating under constraints amid the pandemic, and the two hotels in Mohawk Harbor are seeing reduced traveler demand. But the momentum is going in the right direction, Buicko said, as pandemic restrictions are eased.
“Three thousand square feet here, 2,000 square feet there,” he said, describing the available remaining space. “I’d like to see one more restaurant.”
The Costumer also sees positive momentum, Johnsen said.
“We feel there’s a lot of pent-up demand for celebrations and to get back to normal rituals like Halloween,” he said.
2020 was a challenge, as the company’s biggest source of revenue is rentals for school theater productions, which all but halted. The Costumer made a partial recovery thanks to customers who were doing on-demand and streaming performances, but the Johnsens are looking for a more extensive business rebound in 2021, particularly for Halloween and the 2021-2022 theater season.
Signs from across the country already point to an upswing in people gathering in costume, Erik Johnsen said.