In an era of online shopping, bare downtowns and big box stores, Albany County Legislators and local leaders gathered Tuesday to honor a brick-and-mortar business celebrating its 150th year in Albany.
"I don't think there's any other businesses in downtown Albany from 150 years ago that are still here today." ~ Albany County Legislator Sam Fein
The days of Pearl Street as the Capital Region’s shopping destination may be in the past, but Lodge’s maroon and white façade is the exception.
According to the company’s website, Lodge's, officially known as B. Lodge & Co., was established in 1867 by Barrington Lodge and his two sons, Charles and William, on the corner of Broadway and Columbia in downtown Albany. The discount store supplied school uniforms, nursing scrubs and more — and that has continued through today.
Lodge's later moved to 91 North Pearl Street, manufacturing washcloths and dish cloths upstairs while the retail store operated on the main floor. Lodge's expanded again to 109 North Pearl Street all the way through to Orange Street for an entire city block. After a devastating fire in 1952, Lodge’s moved to its current location at 75 North Pearl Street.
The Lodge family operated the store until 1960, when it was sold to Eve and Sid Ginsburg.
Their son Barry ran the store until 1995, when the business was sold to Jack and Elaine Yonally. The couple's son Mark and daughter Sharon Freddoso took over the business in 2011. Here's Mark Yonally: "We're very proud of the place. We work really hard on it. We try and provide great products at great prices and we've got great suppliers; we've got great customers."
Dave Lucas - "Why do you think through it all, Lodge's has always remained a go to place in Albany?"
"We try to listen to the customer, and if they're looking for something, we make sure we have it in here. We also look at our competition and see where everyone else is. We like to say we've got a fair markup on things. We tend to beat all the big box stores. We beat Amazon, we beat just about everybody out there in what we're offering."
Customer Jenny Coye: "When I came here with my mom for the first time, we were both like flabbergasted by how much you could get for $100. Myself my brother both got entirely new wardrobes for way cheaper than what the mall would have. They have a huge selection of all kinds of back-to-school supplies and items, so you really can find pretty much anything you want at this store."
Yonally says Lodge's long ago developed strong civic ties. "We work with a lot of different agencies. We're gonna help to deliver about 6,000 winter coats that will go to needy kids and needy adults throughout the Capital Region. Actually, throughout Massachusetts and in Vermont as well."
Dave Lucas - So y'think the community involvement is an important aspect of the store's success?"
"It's huge, we really believe in being a part of our community, helping out where we can and giving back where we can and I really think that people appreciate we are involved in our local community."