Sheridan Plaza’s new weekly farmer’s market, which opens this afternoon in Schenectady’s north side, isn’t nearly as alluring as a supermarket would be, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The struggling, old-style neighborhood shopping plaza has needed a supermarket ever since Price Chopper closed the doors to its 20,000 square-foot store there in 2006. Built in 1954, the plaza had always boasted a supermarket as a primary tenant - Loblaw’s followed by P&C, then Chopper. But with the trend in that business getting bigger all the time, it was hard for the company to justify what had become a money-losing proposition.
And Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen, who in 2009 promised he was “actively searching” for a replacement, has had little luck enticing a small, off-price chain like Aldi’s, PriceRite or Save-a-Lot, to take a chance.
Maybe the farmer’s market will help. That’s assuming it will be a success, which is not by any means a foregone conclusion. Residents in the city’s north end — and there are thousands of renters in apartment complexes like Sheridan Village, as well as single-family homeowners — have groused about not having a supermarket on and off over the years. (And who can blame them, since they need a car or bus to get to the nearest ones in Niskayuna and Schenectady?) But if they had patronized the old Price Chopper sufficiently, it probably wouldn’t have closed.
So they need to support the farmer’s market, to show the supermarket chains Gillen has been courting over the years that it’s a viable location.
The plaza just got a break when Trustco, which had indicated it would be closing its branch there, had a change of heart. And while other longtime tenants — including a drugstore, Chinese restaurant, liquor store and VA health clinic are all still around — a couple of vacant storefronts (an old dry cleaner and deli) remain.
Gillen also said in 2009 that “you can’t have a community littered with empty storefronts …”. It’s time more was done to rectify that situation at Sheridan Plaza.
The farmer’s market could be a start.