GLENS FALLS — Scoville Jewelers, a downtown Glens Falls mainstay for more than six decades, will close at the end of the year.
Husband-and-wife owners Chris Scoville and Debra Vales will retire and go on a year-round odyssey of the globe to search for an eventual winter residence on par with their summer home in Lake George.
“We have been downtown forever. And we have been through the good times and the bad times,” Scoville said.
Chris Scoville’s parents opened the business in 1952, and it has operated at four locations downtown.
“I joined the business in ’75, and Debra joined shortly thereafter,” Scoville said. “I started managing the store in the late ‘70s.”
Scoville and Vales bought the building at the intersection of Ridge and Glen streets, where the store is now located, in 2000.
Scoville said they will keep the building and lease the space to some other yet-to-be-determined retailer.
He hopes to have the space leased by January.
“In an ideal world, Debra and I want to have this tenant-worthy by mid-January, and we want to be able to hop in our car and start our odyssey,” he said.
The closing of Scoville Jewelers, which has seven employees, is more than just the loss of a retailer, said Edward Bartholomew, president of EDC Warren County.
The business is a downtown anchor, which attracts customers from throughout the region who otherwise would not come, he said.
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“For two generations, Scoville Jewelers has been a key retail business for the retail shopper,” he said. “This family not only attended to their business, but was always ready to pitch in and support downtown Glens Falls and its beautification efforts.”
Recruiting a new business with equal customer draw and sales tax generation will be a challenge, but is possible now that downtown is rebuilding its economic base, Bartholomew said.
“Based on the inquiries that I have gotten so far, I see the potential to have something even better than what we are,” Scoville said. “Certainly as a landlord, we want a tenant that is going to have a solid business plan, a passion for their business and the wherewithal to operate it and, consequently, pay the rent.”
Scoville said he hopes whoever leases the space will carry on his commitment to downtown organizations such as the Glens Falls Collaborative and the Glens Falls Business Improvement District.
“I have been an activist for a long, long time. And I would like to think that the next business would have some people on staff that would be willing to get involved the way I have,” he said.
Scoville, who is 68, said two factors influenced their decision to retire.
One is that downtown Glens Falls is vibrant enough to attract a tenant to the building, so it won’t end up as a vacant storefront.
“And the other reason is that Debra and I are not getting any younger,” he said. “I began to see and feel a physical wear and tear.”
Scoville said they considered keeping the business open with employees running it, but decided it was not feasible.
“It was a staff endeavor, and at the end of the day we concluded that Debra and I needed to be here,” he said. “It was them telling us that it’s not the same when you’re not here.”