Celebrating Independent Bookstores: Schenectady’s Open Door

Like most men, I typically wait until the last minute to purchase birthday and holiday gifts. But when my company, Empire Information Services, Inc.  (today: readMedia, Inc.) was located in Schenectady, NY, I could always find something–whether I needed an anniversary present for my wife or a birthday or holiday present for my kids–at the Open Door Bookstore and Gift Shop.

Also, like most men, I’d probably never walk into a gift shop on my own for fear I’d either break something or have to ask what something was, and we men don’t like to ask for directions when we’re lost or what something is that’s prominently displayed in a gift store.

Thank goodness shopping for a non-book gift at The Open Door is not intimidating at all and the clerks are always happy to answer even the dumbest questions.

According to Janet Hutchison, the current owner, The Open Door was founded as a children’s bookstore in 1971 and has always been at its current location on the corner of Franklin and Jay streets in downtown Schenectady. Janet and her husband purchased the store in 1983 and have expanded it to accomodate the transition to carrying a larger selection of books as well as the gift section, which now includes jewelry and toys.

No doubt the Hutchison’s have entertained suggestions that they move to the suburbs or to a mall, but they’ve stuck with downtown Schenectady through thin and thinner.  These days a local resident tells me things are looking pretty nice downtown and parking is not a problem. There’s a free 2-hour parking lot west of the store that runs between Union St. and Liberty and some decent places to grab lunch on Jay Street and around the corner on State Street.

Janet has graciously set up a date for me to sign copies of The Expendable Man and Making the Grade at the store. Richard Russo, Bill Kennedy and many others have done the same over the years. I’ll be there Saturday, Sept. 8 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM.  But if you can’t make it during those hours, I’ll try to keep the store stocked with copies of both books.

So, if you need a book or a gift and you haven’t been in downtown Schenectady for a while, you can’t go wrong at The Open Door.


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