Helping hands

Saranac Lake continues tradition of helping move local businesses

Marty Rowley and Peter Benson helping move Main Street Exchange in Saranac Lake. Photo: Emily Russell/North Country Public Radio

SARANAC LAKE — One benefit of small town life is that people step in to help each other. In the Adirondack village of Saranac Lake, that’s become a tradition when local businesses move from one location to another.

Earlier this week, folks gathered at Main Street Exchange, a local consignment shop, to help move to business to its new location across the street.

“Spread out and let’s just pass them down,” says one woman. “We need a bucket brigade!” shouts another.

Main Street Exchange sells second-hand clothes, shoes, and household items. It’s been open in Saranac Lake for 18 years. On this day, 20 people showed up to help.

“I’m like literally in goosebumps right now,” says Tori Vazquez, owner of Main Street Exchange.

Tori Vazquez has owned Main Street Exchange in Saranac Lake for nearly three years. Photo: Emily Russell/North Country Public Radio

On this day, she’s also acting as a director, telling people what to pack up and where to put it all. “So now we’re just going to start clearing out the craft room, we have a bunch of bags of fabric…” explains Vazquez to the crew of volunteers.

She advertised her shop’s move on Instagram and knows a lot of the folks that showed up to help. “Most are consigners, my whole family is here- mom, sister, brother, aunt, cousin. Everyone is here.”

It’s like a little party, people are catching up with friends, laughing and joking around. There’s also a lot of heavy lifting happening.

When asked what she’s been doing during the moving party, Vazquez’s mom Marjorie McCabe, laughs and replies “Um, sweating.”

McCabe drove up from Oswego County and lights up she talks about her daughter. “She’s the spice of Saranac Lake, that’s what I tell her because she’s always so bright and vibrant with her clothes all the time,” says McCabe. “She definitely expresses herself and you can’t miss her, so I guess it works out because look at all the people who came to help her.”

Joy Cranker and her teenage daughter walk into the store. “Hi guys! You come to help?” asks Vazquez with a smile. The two had been helping move bags and boxes into her new store across the street.

Cranker says she’s a big fan of consignment and thrift shops like Main Street Exchange. “So it’s good for the community, it’s good for the environment. It’s all good!”

There’s a history of the community coming out to help businesses move in Saranac Lake, which Vazquez says she was reminded of when she started advertising her own move.

“When I started telling people that we were moving, everyone was like, ‘Oh did you know that Mark (Coleman) from Ampersound did this bucket brigade?'”

In 2011, when Coleman had to move his music store, Ampersound, a few blocks away in downtown Saranac Lake, an estimated 200 people came out to help, lining the streets and passing box after box from the old store to its new location.

“I saw the real true spirit of this town come alive when we moved Ampersound from Woodruff Street, very close to where we are now, down to Upper Broadway,” says Marty Rowley, who showed up to help Vazquez move.

Rowley and Vazquez work on the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival together. Rowley was this year’s carnival king. When he heard about her move, he said he couldn’t miss it. As the saying goes, many hands make light work.

“I’m doing fairly easy work,” Rowley explains. “We’re just moving stuff from one store and I’m moving it into a car that drives around to the basement of that other store.”

Vazquez is really excited about the new storefront. This time around, she’s planning on it being more than just a local consignment shop.

“I have plans on creating a maker’s space/clubhouse/event space kind of room.”

For anyone who knows Vazquez, that won’t come as a shock. She’s really involved in Saranac Lake, serving on committees, and hosting fashion shows during Winter Carnival and the Tri-Lakes Pride Festival.

Vazquez also wants to fix up and sell some of her consignment pieces online, bringing Main Street Exchange to the world.

“Now I have a space because here I was putting up racks in the middle of the store and sewing on the counter and stuff, so yeah, it’s going to be a good growth for us,” says Vazquez.

This shop was originally just a job out of college for Vazquez. Then it morphed into her own business when she was just 21 years old. Vazquez is now 24, with another big adventure ahead of her and lots of folks willing to help along the way.


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