During Christmas Break, when I was in grade school, my mother would take me and a friend to downtown Albany and let us walk around while she went to work at the old Albany DSS on State Street. We'd go the Museum then to the top of the Corning Tower. After that, lunch at Sandwiches to Go then we'd walk around Pearl Street by the Army/Navy Store and Lodge's. I always looked forward to those days, and liked it better if it was snowing. But all these years later, as the region has become overrun by malls, and chain-store giants, and everthing else you can imagine, I wonder: How is Lodge's still in business?
If you don't know what B. Lodge's is, it is an oddities store (men's/women's clothing, socks, underwear, bras, etc) and the oldest store in Albany. It is across from the Kenmore and the Blue 82 Bar on Pearl Street. If you've never been to Lodge's, I would assume you are in the majority, because the whole point of this blog is: I don't understand WHO goes to Lodge's. When the economy is seemingly crumbling around us everday, and the same chain-store giants I just mentioned are going by the wayside in record numbers, this old, musty store, filled with all these grandma-ish clothes and oddities, still stands? Really? Who goes to Lodge's? Please, tell me who you are. I know, I know, when you needed a poncho on the spot, Lodge's saved the day. But how often does that happen? A business can't survive on that craziness, can it?
My memories of the place are that it is really depressing, and old, and really green inside. There are all these waaayyyyyy out-of-style clothes and bins of other buyables everywhere. I even think a bell rings when you go inside. I know it's a slice of Albany history, but are you kidding me? Everything in the store is so second-handish and old. They call pants, slacks. Pants haven't been called slacks since Mr. Ed went off the air. Plus, all the parking is metered. Jez-Louise. I don't understand how this store survives.
Cheap clothes? Go to Macy's or JCP's and you can get namebrand dress shirts for $10.00 sometimes on their clearance days. (I admit, I don't know women's prices.) That may be anti-local, sure. But the mall is much easier and that's where so many go for clothes. You don't have to really pay for clothes anymore anyway, not even good, namebrand suits. I get Express, Gap, and Macy's coupons by the wagon load. At the end of that you're paying floorboard prices.
Recently I tried to go back to Lodge's so I could understand what keeps this dinosaur going. First stop: their website for hours of operation. Guess what? No website. It's 2010. So we made the drive anyway. Guess what? In addition to being musty and super-depressing, and not having a website (that I could find) it's NEVER open for business. Every time I go there, it's closed and those horrible, out-of-style clothes are hanging in the sidewalk-window. What are the hours on this place? (As far as I can tell) Nights? Nope. Weekend evenings? Nope. You can't be telling me that it's only open during regular 9-5, weekday work hours. It's almost like this place's business plan is do ANYTHING to NOT get business. What retailer opens up ONLY when EVERYBODY is at work?
I appreciate the fact that Lodge's is the oldest store in Albany, I get that. And despite my rant, God bless the place for surviving an economy that's worse than Conan's new late-night show. At some point you need superior product that's appealing and relevant to consumers, right? You need to actually make money, and you need to be open every once in a while when people are available to shop. This isn't 1937. It can't all be the State Worker lunch crowd, and retired folks, and people who go there for the great sock deals (because good socks are so hard to come by), and those artsy-people who only believe in buying local (peace and love, peace and love) that keeps this operation afloat, can it? I just don't get it.
Lodge's will always live as a fond memory of my Christmas Break days in Albany, but now, when I'm actually of the age to be a buyer, I couldn't dream up a single reason to hit Lodge's. Is that sad? Maybe. Am I the ugly American for spending my money at Crossgates and Colonie Center? Probably. But it's the truth and I imagine it's your truth too.
Lodge's hours: 8.50Am-5.25PM, Mon-Sat.
??8.50-5.25?? That's so 1937.