Granville Then & Now – The 2020 business beat

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

The year 2020 has been quite unusual for people and businesses everywhere, including the Granville area. Let’s take a look back at some of the business changes and events which occurred during 2020.

The Village Yarn Shop reopened on Jan. 25, after a month-long hiatus. The store has a new look, having been renovated and remodeled with a new purple color scheme, and improved arrangement of seating and shelving. The new lighting is better than the old, and a new central air system will keep the shop warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The yarn shop had been closed since late December, when a water leak was discovered. The repairs for the water leak were rather involved, and this allowed for the building to be renovated.

The pizza market in Granville expanded this year. Edwards Market began selling pizza on Jan. 21. This had been in planning for some time. The opening of Morse’s Diner and Pizzeria followed on Feb. 24. The business initially was open for most of the day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The arrival of the pandemic in March spelled changes for everyone and everything, including businesses. The restaurants first found themselves regulated to operate at half seating capacity, then after a few days, with no seating at all. This turned all the restaurants into takeout eateries. It also closed seating in any other business with seating, such as the seating in Chapman’s, Edwards or Stewart’s, or that in McDonald’s or Subway. All businesses had to change to adapt to the new regulations.

After a few days of operating on a reduced take-out schedule, Nelson’s Family Fare Restaurant announced around March 21 that it would be temporarily closing, likely until the pandemic ended. No one knew it in March, but this was the first related business casualty in Granville. As the situation dragged on for months, the reopening ultimately didn’t come to fruition.

The changes occurred with other businesses as well. All businesses deemed “non-essential” had to close. This affected many of the businesses operating on Granville’s Main Street at the time, including the Village Yarn Shop, Gemini Fitness, 2nd Time Around, Shaw’s Antiques, Bargain Busters, and The Gold Trout.

Factories were affected as well. Telescope Casual Furniture voluntarily closed its factory and offices mid-day on March 17. Products were developed that would help in the efforts of combating the pandemic, including cloth face masks, and some chaises and stands. In early April, Telescope made appeals for pandemic-related work orders on local news stations, including WRGB channel 6, WTEN channel 10, and cable-only Spectrum News. In the end, only the masks received any orders, and Telescope recalled a small amount of sewing employees for the mask manufacturing effort.

Around the start of April, a window manufacturer had interest in locating its business in the former Manchester Wood factory building just north of the village of Granville. The company applied for assistance through the START-UP NY program. A notice was placed in the Glens Falls Post-Star in early April asking for applications for employment, to be routed through the business office of SUNY Adirondack. The company’s identity remained anonymous, as do all who apply for the program. As of December, there has been no known further development with this plan.

The Granville Subway closed for renovations in early March. While the fast food eatery was intended to be reopened before March’s end, delays in construction, including the failure of a truss in the building’s structure, delayed the reopening well into April. The new Subway opened on April 28. The area and fixtures formerly used by Bongo’s and Ralphie Boys are gone; Subway now occupies the entire building, with more efficient use of the floor space.

Both of Granville’s drive-in eateries opened for business this year. MacDaddy’s reopened on April 10 and Jen’s Pit Stop opened May 15. Due to complications with window service and frequent calling resulting in the phone line often being busy, Jen’s added car hop service on May 23; this action rendered Middle Granville with its first car hop since the late 1990s.

Business restrictions relaxed in May to allow for factories to reopen. Telescope had been deemed an essential business in late April and reopened on May 4.

In Pawlet, Vermont, a longtime business building reopened for use after several years of being vacant. Mach’s Market opened on May 22, owned by Gib Mach.

The announcement was made in early June that On the Rocks would be moving to 22 Main Street. The business had been closed for a month or so. On the Rocks reopened at their new location on July 30. The new location brought the improvement of a slightly larger dining area and a larger kitchen.

By the end of May, business restrictions relaxed to the point that much of the non-eatery businesses could reopen. Bargain Busters was the first to do so, reopening June 4. The Village Yarn Shop was next on June 5. Most reopened by the end of July, with the exception of The Gold Trout, which continues to conduct business by phone order sales and online sales. The businesses have remained open, although Bargain Busters closed again by the end of July.

An era of local radio broadcasting came to a close on the afternoon of July 25. 1340 AM WVNR and 94.1 FM WNYV, the stations of Lakes Region Radio, “flipped” formats from its variety and primarily classis hits format to a classic country hits format as K94.1 “Throwback Country.” Loud Media entered into an agreement in May with Judy and Michael Leech, owners of Pine Tree Broadcasting, the company that owned and operated the WVNR and WNYV stations, to purchase the company and stations. Under the agreement, the stations would be operated under a local marketing agreement until the sale closed, pending the FCC approval of the change of ownership of the stations.

Two building sales occurred on Main Street this summer. The former TD Bank building at 6 Main Street went up for auction again in late June, with a starting bid of $25,000. Ten-X Commercial Real Estate, the company handling the auction, made an attempt to reach out to locals to see what businesses area residents would like to see there; such a post was made on the Sentinel’s Facebook page. This backfired as most who responded for unrealistic requests, or businesses unsuited to the location by area character or zoning. The only bidder this time around was a Florida company, Compu-Design USA; their bid was $50,000. With the fees required by Ten-X, the final sale cost to Compu-Design was $70,000. The sale of the property closed on Aug. 3. As of December, no action has been taken on the property by Compu-Design USA, except to keep the power on for the presently vacant building, which is the power source for the Memorial Clock.

The other Main Street building to be sold was the former Pyrofax Energy building. Through mergers, it was by then owned by Suburban Propane. The property was sold to people from Mount Kisco on Aug. 3, for $29,000. The new owners promptly went to work fixing up the building and painting the front.

Morse’s Diner and Pizzeria ran into complications by July, and an announcement was made that the business would be closing the week of July 16. Morse’s ultimately closed July 12. Many in the area wanted for the closure not to be permanent, and asked how they could help. A fundraising effort was established, with both an online aspect and a local one at Glens Falls National Bank. Morse’s reopened Sept. 10 and has been remained open.

The business restrictions preventing fitness centers and bowling alleys from reopening relaxed in late August. Gemini Fitness reopened in late August, and Slate Valley Lanes followed in early September.

With the change in seasons and weather, Granville’s eateries changed, with outdoor seating arrangements ending, depending on the business, in October or November. Granville’s car hops closed for the season as well; Jen’s in Middle Granville closed Sept. 27, and MacDaddy’s in the village closed Nov. 28.

The sale of the property at the northwest corner of the intersection of State Route 22 and County Route 23, now called 2039 County Route 23, closed in July, with ownership transferring from Clark Hicks to Primax Properties. The latter party had attended Town Planning Board meetings in late 2019 and early 2020 to gain approval for their plans to build a Dollar General store on the property. Construction started the same month as the sale closing, and the building was finished by the end of November. The store’s signs were placed in the first week of December. The building was filled with shelving, fixtures, and products during the second week of December; that week also began the training of the new employees. The Middle Granville Dollar General opened for business on Dec. 14.

The year 2020 was unusual for everyone. Granville saw changes, openings and closings with its businesses. The circumstances of the pandemic put a damper on most business activity for a few months, and it continues to affect business. As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, a happy New Year to all, and best wishes to everyone. May the Granville area prosper in 2021, and in the years ahead.

Erik Pekar

Town Historian