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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 16, 2011
Richman family tradition
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND The Richman family has a history spanning more than half a century and three generations in the Stuyvesant Plaza shopping center, where the gift and accessory store Pearl Grant Richmans does business.
The store is the only original tenant of the plaza, which opened in 1959, and currently has over 50 shops and restaurants.
Later this summer, a new Richman-run store will open for business in the upscale outdoor shopping plaza. Michael Richman, son of Barry Richman, the owner of Pearl Grant Richmans, is bringing his concept store, Ta-da!, to Guilderland.
The store, which will offer quirky gifts, specialty toys, unique books, and non-traditional games, opened in Clifton Park in 2007. Richman said he came up with the idea for the shop when he started having trouble finding gifts for his son at toy stores.
To go into retail only made sense, since he had literally grown up in his family’s store.
“I took the bus to Stuyvesant Plaza after school and everything,” Richman said. “It was normal for me; the lifestyle was ingrained in me.”
Richman worked in his family’s store all through high school, and then from 1999 until 2007, when he opened Ta Da! in Clifton Park.
“I think it prepared me well and gave me a really good work ethic,” said Richman of working in the family business. The experience helped him get hired on the spot for a retail job in college.
When Richman was first struck with the idea for his own store, he and his wife, Molly, test-drove a few of the items they wanted to sell by placing them in Pearl Grant Richmans. He wanted to offer something different than a toy store, and focused on items for children ages 8 and up.
“The market for little kids is fully covered, so we decided to ignore that age group,” Richman said. He stocks the store using vendors that he said he and his wife have always loved, and said his son, now 13, is a great test subject.
Ta Da! offers a variety of merchandise, including board games not generally carried in the mass market. He’ll keep the store in Clifton Park even after he opens the Stuyvesant Plaza store; he doesn’t have an opening date but said it will definitely be this summer.
“I try to look for games that have won international awards, or board games that are popular in Europe,” said Richman. He also has a section of the store dedicated to odd-ball books, and a counter where people can test out some of the games and toys.
“It’s nice to be able to build a relationship with the customers. A lot of times they’ll come up and introduce themselves because we’ve built a rapport, and that’s when you know you’ve started something really good,” Richman said. The reception to the Clifton Park store has been better than he expected.
“People will come in and say, ‘Oh my gosh! It’s like all of my favorite websites and catalogs in one store!’” said Richman.
He is excited to bring his store to his hometown.
“I can’t wait to service all the people I already know. This is such a broad community,” he said. He already knows many of the people who live in the area and shop in the plaza since he grew up in Guilderland and spent so much of his childhood in the shopping center.
“We were putting up drywall the other day, and we could have shaved an hour off of the project, but people kept stopping by to say hello and chat,” said Richman.
While the original concept for the store was gifts for the older child, it has expanded to include items for teens and adults, too.
“It’s so funny to see a dad bring all this stuff to the register and say, ‘Yeah…I need all this stuff for my kid…’” laughed Richman. “You know he’s just going to go home and play with it.”
College students patronize the store for the party and drinking games, and Richman said professors from the University at Albany have driven up to Clifton Park for the book selection. Now, they’ll be able to walk to the store.