A Duanesburg holistic health and gift shop has relocated to downtown Schenectady’s Jay Street pedestrian mall, making it the first new business to open there in at least the past six months.
Crossroads Gifts & Wellness celebrated its grand opening earlier this month at 133 Jay St. The shop offers cards, candles, jewelry, books, organic teas and coffees, fresh baked goods and gourmet food items, among other unique and local offerings.
It opened in February 2007 as Crossroads Gallery for the Arts & Healing — a community gathering for holistic- and wellness-minded residents. It’s old space at 4956 Western Turnpike had a sun porch and second-floor reading room, but it wasn’t smack dab in the middle of a busy retail area like Jay Street.
“I moved here knowing that probably 90 percent of customer base, which was coming from Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga, Gloversville, Johnstown, and so on, would follow me here,” said owner Elisabeth Rolfe. “Everyone was traveling far already to see me because I don’t think there’s any space like mine. I think I have a unique, eclectic, neat blend of stuff, and I also have a lot of local art. I’m going to do a revolving showing of local artists and it’ll be a seasonal thing, starting with a local potter whose leaf bowls are now in my window for the spring.”
Rolfe’s shop already seems to have filled an untapped market in downtown Schenectady. She’s been open just over a week and has already had more customers that she did over the course of a month in Duanesburg.
“I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner,” she said. “The overwhelming support is just really amazing.”
The new location offers the same selection as the old place, with a few expanded health and body-care offerings. Crossroads Gifts & Wellness has candles and all-natural essential oils, RAD soap from Cohoes, crystals and stones, greeting cards, photo cards, incense, a line of clothing from Cobleskill-based Vijaya’s, medicinal-type teas from Schenectady’s Divinitea, Aqua Vitea Kombucha tea on tap, pesto and hummus from the Schenectady Greenmarket, and baked goods from All Good Bakers in Albany.
Crossroads also offers Reiki sessions, a Japanese stress relief and healing technique that Rolfe said balances the energy meridians of the body. In addition, the shop offers intuitive readings.
“We have a couple of people I’m bringing from Duanesburg that do one-on-one consultations with people,” she said. “Some people call them psychic readings, but our women prefer to call them intuitive readings because they tend to give more personal guidance than anything.”
The last business to open up on Jay Street was Bel Cibo Fine Gourmet Food & Spices, which relocated from Upper Union Street last June to its new space at 166 Jay St.
Jay Street Business Association member Richard Mari said another new business is slated to fill a vacancy this fall. Rotterdam coral shop Upstate Corals will fill 127 Jay St., one of five long-empty storefronts on the mall, he said.
“It’s probably three-quarters occupied,” said Mari. “You know, anything that comes in is good for us. So the more we get, the better. We want to have a full street where people know they have plenty of options.”
Of course, it’s not a simple task to bring new business in. Rolfe said that even though she owns an established business with a following, county officials did little to relocate, let alone welcome her, downtown. She filled out relocation grant applications, set up meetings with county officials at the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. and Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, and made phone call after phone call.
After little to no response, she tapped her savings to manage the move.
“I was disappointed to hear that there was no incentive or support for small businesses to move here,” she said. “And I’m still looking. I’m not a new business coming onto Jay Street in hopes of making it. I’m an established business with a following.”