Arthur’s Market, the popular hangout for Stockade residents, has closed.
“We’re done,” Joyce Wachala said outside the store at the corner of North Ferry and Front streets on Wednesday evening. “The economy is hard for everybody. I guess we’re just another casualty of it.”
The business, which Wachala and her husband Artur had owned since 2007, had been open for erratic hours for at least a month. The couple posted a notice on the Historic Stockade Yahoo group on Wednesday saying it was closed indefinitely.
Wachala said it was too expensive to keep the business open between food, taxes, insurance and licenses on top of the mortgage.
“You’ve got to put a lot of money into a store to have it run. I don’t think anybody right now has a lot of extra money,” she said.
The owners have had the property on the market with Realty USA and are seeking somebody to perhaps rent or lease the space and continue the business. She was keeping her options open.
“Maybe we’ll open in another few months. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Wachalas do plan to be open for special events in September such as the Stockade Villagers Arts Show and the Stockade Walkabout.
She is going to miss the store’s regular customers. “There’s some really great people around here,” she said.
Interesting people passed through the store’s doors including Italian soccer players, German yachters and just recently an Australian with a didgeridoo, a native instrument. “It was a lot of fun. Every day was something different,” she said.
Wachala got involved in local politics during her time with the business. She won a seat on the Schenectady Board of Education in May 2009 but had to step down a little more than a month into her term that August after her 3-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes. The couple moved back to Ballston Spa. She said her child’s illness was not a factor in the decision to close the business.
Arthur’s Market has undergone a series of transitions during the last seven years. Arthur Polachek owned the business since 1952 and ran it with the help of his son Peter before retiring in 2003. There were two other previous unsuccessful attempts to start the business by food journalist Rob Gavell in 2004 and by restaurateur Richard Genest.
Stockadians were disappointed that latest incarnation has shuttered. Vyvian d’Estienne of Front Street said it was a shame to lose such a valuable asset to the community.
“My sons had paper routes and they would stop there and buy something. We would go over there and eat and maybe have lunch.”
George Soltysiak recalled working for the Polacheks as a manager: “I would get up at six in the morning, get the coffee going, get the papers.”
Soltysiak said it is tough for an independent grocery store to compete with chains, who can buy food in bulk and get discounts.
“It’s convenient for the sandwiches but people just aren’t supporting it enough,” he said.
Resident Charles Gelarden said he used to go there a lot. “It would be a strong viable business with a built-in community of people who love it,” he said.
Stockade Association President Mary D’Alessandro said Arthur’s was an extremely important gathering spot. “We can get together, have a cup of coffee, give each other a hug, catch up on what’s going on. Without that place, we don’t have the opportunity to do that as much as we would like,” she said.
She hoped the business would find new owners: “I think it has great potential to be successful.”