A new independent bookstore and the first downtown movie house in decades will both be opening in Saratoga Springs by mid- to late summer, and a new grocery has just opened in Wilton.
The three businesses’ decision to come to the Saratoga area is a sign of how the city has transformed from the 1970s, when businesses were leaving, said Charles V. Wait, the president of Adirondack Trust Co.
“To see all these pieces come together is a really exciting thing,” he said Thursday.
The Northshire Bookstore is on track to open on Broadway in July, while Bow-Tie Cinemas plans to unveil new multiscreen theaters downtown and at Wilton Mall in July or August.
“It will really depend on how quickly construction goes,” said Joe Masher, chief operating officer of Bow-Tie Cinemas of Ridgefield, Conn. “We’d definitely like to have both open by racing season.”
Masher, Northshire Bookstore owner Chris Morrow and Eli Lesser-Goldsmith of Healthy Living Market talked about their plans at a Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday at the Gideon Putnam Hotel.
Healthy Living Market & Cafe, based in South Burlington, Vt., opened a new market Thursday at the Wilton Mall — the company’s second location. The market specializes in selling natural, organic and locally produced foods and produce.
All three businesses are being drawn to the city by its continued growth — some of it due to GlobalFoundries and other high-tech businesses. But there’s also the quality of the community, the owners said.
“You can have all the business consultants in the world, but in the end it comes down to a gut feeling, and for us Saratoga was that gut feeling,” said Lesser-Goldsmith.
Northshire will be moving into the new building under construction at 422 Broadway, next to Lillian’s restaurant. It will have a 9,000-square-foot bookstore on two floors, and will include a full-service cafe. It will be the second location for the Manchester, Vt., bookstore.
“We will model the store on what we do in Manchester,” Morrow said.
That will mean a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction, having a staff passionate about books, and noted authors brought in for readings and book signings, Morrow said.
The city has been without an independent full-selection bookstore since Montana Books closed in the 1980s, and it has had no full-service bookstore since Borders closed its store on Broadway in 2011.
“We were not looking to expand,” Morrow said. “When Borders left downtown we started getting letters and emails and more emails from people asking us to come here.”
The company will start hiring through its website next month, and it plans to employ 20 to 25 people, Morrow said.
Bow-Tie, which also operates the Movieland Cinemas in downtown Schenectady, will be opening a new 11-screen Criterion Cinemas theater at the former Price Chopper site on Railroad Place. It has also leased the eight-screen theater at the Wilton Mall, which it is currently renovating. Both locations will include one large-screen BTX “Bow-Tie XTreme” format theater.
“Our mission is to return style and elegance to the movie-going experience,” Masher said.
Bow-Tie theaters include stadium seating, plush chairs, and touches like real butter on the popcorn, Masher said. The downtown theater plans to include independent films, children’s movies and documentaries in its mix of offerings, he said.
“We really focus on downtowns that have strong medical, cultural and arts communities, and Saratoga was very strong in those areas,” Masher said.
The last downtown movie theater was on Broadway, and closed in the late 1970s.
The Healthy Living Market and Cafe opened for the first time at 8 a.m. Thursday in the former JCPenney location in the Wilton Mall on Route 50. JCPenney moved to a new, larger store at the Wilton mall some years ago.
“It’s been extremely busy. The response is amazing,” said Lyndsay Meilleur, general manager of the 35,000-square-foot market and cafe.
The company completely renovated the old department store with natural woods, stone, and gleaming rows of track lights over the market’s natural groceries, fresh organic and local produce, locally sourced meats and poultry, artisan breads, a vast assortment of cheese, health and beauty products, and a complete vitamin and supplement department.
The market has a floral department, freshly prepared foods, and a broad selection of waters, beers and juices.
On Thursday customers were enjoying samples of local Uncommon Grounds coffee that will be offered at the new market by the cup or pound.
In one part of the store, Radsoap of Cohoes was offering samples of its soaps and natural creams.
“This is our first real big retail location,” said owner Susan Kerber. The company makes natural soaps using locally grown products.
Meilleur said the market will increase employees from the current 75 to 90 by next week and as many as 150 three years from now. She pointed proudly to the store’s cafe, where organic juices, smoothies, espresso and teas are made to order; the store’s extensive bakery, using local flours; and the deli, featuring hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and meals.
The cafe part of the market allows customers to eat their meals in a courtyard connected to the deli and facing the inside of the mall. The market’s main entrance is outside the mall near Planet Fitness and Ruby Tuesday’s.
The Healthy Market and Cafe has a Learning Center that offers cooking demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes, and community lectures that focus on health and wellness. For more information visit www.healthylivingmarket.com.
The market is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.