Friday, September 07, 2007

The Catskill Scene

EXCISION. The first item in this blog as originally published turned out to be wrong. As of Wednesday night, Sept. 12, it has been expunged. --Dick May

BILL’S BOOTS is not the name of the store that now occupies the space on West Bridge Street, Catskill that, for so many years, under so many operating tenants, was known as Bill’s Grill. As in Bill Beck, the building’s owner. Instead, Sandy and Bill III have opened 32 West Kidz, offering a dazzling array of footwear for youngsters, plus “skateboards, griptape, wheels, trucks, bearings, hats, backpacks tee’s, alien workshop habitat toy machine enjoi almost blind darkstar tensor pig more!!!”

CLOSING soon, after seven months of retailing on Main Street, Catskill: Mountain Buddies. According to proprietor Jim Halla, his store is only one of several that are not breaking even; most of the new ones, he suspects, are “struggling” because Greene County is still a depressed area, with a growth rate that lags most of the State, and pedestrian traffic in downtown Catskill does not suffice to sustain most retailers. Jim does plan to maintain, and to enlarge/augment, his consulting/instructional operation, Outdoor Pursuits, and perhaps to extend it from kayaking and canoeing guidance to land-based pursuits. Mr Halla was the unnamed subject of an item posted in last Friday’s blog. He e-mailed a Comment which he signed and which, accordingly, we posted. Another reader sent an anonymous Comment, while also remarking that “If you post my remarks I would respectfully appreciate anonymity” and giving this reason: “because it would seem to me that very few people here really see or even want to accept that there really is not much retail business going on.” His other remarks, verbatim:

Mr May. Your comments on Mr Mountainbuddy, Jim, were rediculous if not down right rude. To my knowledge, you have never run a retail business or any other business in Main St Catskill, or anywhere else, so you are perhaps the least qualified to make these remarks. Sorry to break the news to you Dick, but to make money, one actually needs walk-in customers, every business day in a retail district. Even though you have lived here for many years, it is clear that you are clueless about the reality of retail commerce in Main St and the daily impact on ones business because of a lack of shoppers. From a purely business perspective, Jim should be applauded for having a go here and perhaps more importantly for also recognising the need to change direction, before disaster strikes. He has been positive and passionately enthusiastic, always convinced that Catskill was a good move for his business. A smart businessman knows that when things are this bad he cannot wait to see if things take a turn for the better. I spoke with someone in the Heart of Catskill at least a year ago and suggested that it might be unreasonable to lure people over here on the pretext that there is great retail business hear. Needless to say, as usual, this person did not wish to hear my comment. Jim came here and realised very quickly that all is not wonderful in Catskill…. There are perhaps 1 or 2 retail establishments making profit, but it would be very interesting to know how much profit, NOT turnover, the other retail businesses are actually making, on average, each month. I strongly suspect, that many of those stroll visitors spend little or nothing and consume free wine before going home.

As to how other downtown retailers are faring, we have not made a proper survey and would welcome hard numbers. David Miles of Hood & Co. reports an 81% increase in August 2007 sales over August 2006, and a 61% gain from Labor Day in 2006 to Labor Day in 2007. The new City Lights store reportedly is flourishing, and so are some of the veterans, such as Ray’s Appliances and Functional Tiles, that seemed to be imperiled by Home Depot and Lowes. But those cases may be no more representative than Mr Halla’s case.

VISITORS SAY. “Recently,” says Blossom Molnar of Kent, Ohio, in a letter to the Catskill Chamber of Commerce, “we were docked at the Riverview Marina. What an absolute pleasure it was walking through your beautiful town!! And the delightful Catskill Cats—and Flat Cats—were breath taking! I walked through town three times taking a lot of pictures! How wonderful it must be to live in such a talented and caring community! Hometown Pride is a beautiful thing to share and view! Thank you for all your effort! It is appreciated!”

In another message, Mrs A. Rademacher of Milford PA said “I just want to let you [Catskillians] know how very much these PA and LI tourists enjoyed touring Main St on a very hot, humid day this month. Our mens shirts were soaked with perspiration, but all this was forgotten when we saw and took pix of these beautiful cat displays. The childen (14 and 11) got a lot out of this trip and 3 weeks later are still telling their friends to go to the Catskills and ‘see the cats’.”

“CLOVERDALE ESTATES” is the proposed name of a 224-unit subdivision that is proposed for the 100-acre site along Cauterskill Road, paralleling West Bridge Street in Catskill Town. According to a Daily Mail story (8/15), enterpriser Curt Grob plans Adirondack-style townhouse architecture and a clubhouse for the residents. The various needed permits have not all been issued, and the bid to connect with the Village sewer system probably will be turned down; but the biggest obstacle to construction could be the downturn in real estate sales.

DAILY MAUL. Our local newspaper provides a daily “Calendar of Events” which is noteworthy for its incompleteness. Often not listed are events that reported in adjacent columns or on other pages of the paper. During the past week, until yesterday, the Calendar cited just one event for this Saturday--but it has done so copiously. In duplicate, that is: two entries, one just below the other, about the same event, day after day. This feat of editing surpasses previous occasions in which the same story appeared on successive days, or on separate pages on the same day, or in separate columns of the same page. Apart from that sort of sloppiness, we duly note recent D M additions to the Misnomers file: “…came to the aide of the Coxsackie Police Department with their donation of 23 teddy bears”; “Some crews paddled, some rowed, some peddled and all hoped to simply keep their craft afloat…”; “…offered a challenge of free lunch to any crew who could succumb them to defeat”; "...this weekend's premier of the independent film...." Noteworthy too are recurring disagreements in number (singular/plural) between a sentence’s subject and verb: “The efforts of Catskill Middle School students to raise environmental awareness has paid off”; “…board of trustees…who have overseen Cedar Grove…”; “A trove of historical documents…bolster where and why to arrange the landscape”; “The other that’s frustrating Albright and his crew are parked cars on the roads”; "Requests for bids has already been advertised...." Not to be passed over without due recognition too are sentences averring that “Only one question was asked by councilman John Lubera before the resolution passed which was it in the budget and Baldwin answered ‘yes’”; “The honey locust first gathered the attention of the Beyfuss 15 years ago…” and “’It’s one of the many old trees in Greene County that most people are unaware of,’ said Beyfuss, adding with some dead branches on top it’s quite possible the inside of the tree is hollow and has 50 years of life left in it.”

GASOLINE PRICES. During the past few days, the cost of regular was a bit higher at the eastern end of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge ($2.90) than at the western end ($2.85). That is unusual. Also rare was a lower price on the Catskill side of the bridge than on West Bridge Street ($2.91; $2.92). All of those stations charged more than the Hess station in downtown Hudson, at $2.80. They also were higher than the nation-wide average ($2.80), the East Coast average ($2.71), and even the reported (but implausible) New York City average ($2.70), while being close to the State-wide average ($2.86).


>>“Stephanie Daley,” the GreeneLand-made movie, will be screened in Catskill’s Community Theatre at 7:30 and 9:30pm, with writer/director Stephanie Brougher present after the first showing to talk about the picture and answer questions. >> At Stella’s Lounge, the Joe Michel quartet plays from 8:30 pm.

SATURDAY (9/8) IN CATSKILL >>Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Historic Catskill Point, from mid-morning, with music by “Head for the Hills.” >>Saturday Stroll events along Main Street start in mid-afternoon. >>At the Cus D’Amato KO gymnasium on Main St, Catskill, from 5pm, boys and men will put on a boxing show, along with martial arts ace Peter “Schoharie Stallion” Lopez (yes, the State Assemblyman). >>At the Community Theatre, “Stephanie Daley” will be screened at 2, 5, and 8pm, with Hilary Brougher again present for conversation after the final screening.

SUNDAY “Stephanie Daley” will be shown at the Community Theatre again at 2pm and 7:15pm

SEPTEMBER 23 (but make plans now!) Cats Meow Gala, at Historic Catskill Point. $30 per person donations yield brunch provided by local restaurants plus wine samples. Then comes the auction of those now-famous fiberglass d—ahem—cat rescue organization Animalkind (or is it Animal Kind). Off-site bidding can be arranged; call (518) 943-0989 or email As impresario Linda Overbaugh says, this will be “Purr-fect ending to a Purr-fect summer.”


Chip said...

You criticize the Daily Mail for sloppy use of the English language and then you. yourself, pen an incomprehensible statement three paragraphs further.

Referring to the Cats Meow Gala to be held Sept 23 at the Historic Catskill Point, you state:

"Then comes the auction of those now-famous fiberglass d—ahem—cat rescue organization Animalkind (or is it Animal Kind)."

Now, just what does that mean? What are you trying to say?

In fact, what is happening is following the Gala at the Point there will be an auction of the 49 or so ceramic cats currently on view throughout the Village. The cat rescue organization Animalkind will receive only a portion of the proceeds and is not the sponsor of the event or of the auction.

For years Animalkind has found homes for cats abandoned in Greene County and has paid for, or furnished financial assistance for the spay/neuter of 100's of cats in Greene County.

It is important to read their website at

Dick May said...

The posting of foregoing comment marks a departure from standing policy, whereby anonymous messages get canned unless the authors identify themselves 'privately' to me (at I have made an exception for this "Chip."
--Dick May