The thrift store in Gloversville with no name

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Phyllis Kluska’s Gloversville thrift store at 122 E. Fulton St.

By Charles Erickson/For The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE – Phyllis Kluska never bothered to name the store she opened a few years ago at 122 E. Fulton St.  The two-story building at the corner of Market St. has hosted various commercial enterprises over the decades, including a restaurant and a parlor for a tarot reader.

On a scorching Saturday afternoon last month, Kluska had arranged a selection of the store’s merchandise on and under card tables set up on the front sidewalk. There were handbags, lamps, a mini trampoline, a desktop golf game from the 1960s, jewelry chests and more than a dozen other items.

“This is just a little thrift shop,” said Kluska, 73. “I open it whenever I have a day off that I can do it.”

That day, she said, is normally Friday or Saturday but sometimes she is open on both days from about 9 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon.

Two white-haired brothers walked around inside the store, which features a sales floor beyond the front entrance and a large annex that appears to have been grafted onto the starboard side of the building when it was turned into a neighborhood restaurant.

Phyllis Kluska in 2020 opened a thrift shop Phyllis Kluska with some of the inventory she sells CHARLES ERICKSON/FOR THE LEADER-HERALD

The men said they were visiting from Round Lake.  The older brother, who would only give his first name, approached Kluska with a black New York Mets jersey, two soft cover books about the U.S. military in the 1940s, and a jackknife.  Joe offered her $5 for the lot, which she accepted.

As he picked up his purchase, Joe told Kluska he was looking for something else.  “Do you have any of those military pillowcases that the soldiers sent home in World War Two to their sister and mother?” he asked.

“I know what you’re looking for,” Kluska said, nodding.  “I’ve got one, but I don’t know where it is.”

Everyone laughed and the men exited the store that is cluttered with plenty of stock.

CARRYING ON

If not in name, the store at 122 E. Fulton St. carries on the spirit of Yesterday’s Treasures, an earlier Kluska-owned enterprise that featured similar merchandise and enjoyed a solid run until a fire burned the warehouse to the ground in February 2016. It was at 3 Harrison St. in Gloversville.

The inventories of both stores were gathered in similar ways, according to Kluska, and a new accumulation of stuff is what prompted her to open the store without a name in 2020.

“I make a few dollars just being here,” Kluska said.  “I don’t have anything that’s very expensive.”

Much of the merchandise comes from the cleanout work Kluska performs on garages or homes that are being readied for sale. She does not pay for the items and the recipients of the cleanings do not pay for the service. Property owners are left with empty rooms and Kluska gets to resell any treasures she uncovers during the work.

Other merchandise is sent to Kluska after it fails to sell during garage sales.

“There’s a lot more inside,” Kluska said to an older woman on the sidewalk as she was bent over and looking at some lamps set atop a card table.  “A lot more.”

The Gloversville thrift store is one of Kluska’s three businesses. She also owns the Tribes Hill Deli in Fonda and the Perthshire Banquet Hall in Amsterdam.

“This is my most enjoyable business,” Kluska said as the woman on the sidewalk picked up a lamp.  “The deli is enjoyable, too, but I have five people working there. Here, it’s just me.”

CASH AND CARRY OUT

Tammy Hunt lives near the store, on Allen Street.  She and a friend walked over when they saw the store was open.  

Phyllis Kluska with some of the inventory she sells CHARLES ERICKSON/FOR THE LEADER-HERALD

“I come in once or twice a year,” Hunt said, entering after nothing on the sidewalk caught her eye. Her friend, also dressed in shorts, entered the store for the first time. Hunt led her through a doorway on the left, and into the section with clothing, Christmas decorations, sundae glasses and other items.

Kluska said all items in the store are priced from 10 cents to $25.  It’s always worth the time to open the store, she said, and trade has been steady.

“I think it’s important to have a store like this, don’t you?” Kluska, a Gloversville native, declared to a visitor. “People can pick up clothes for $1 apiece, and some of them still have tags on them. They can pick up kitchenware cheap enough for anybody starting out.” 

In a space along one of the outside walls, a flatscreen monitor, fax machine and other business equipment were all set up on a desk.  A visitor asked if this was Kluska’s office.

“No, that’s for sale,” she said. “Even the desk. Everything is, even that metal detector.”

The for-sale tag applies even to 122 E. Fulton St., which Kluska owns. If the building sells, she shrugged, she would almost certainly move the store to another address. She said she has a lot of inventory and a lot of things that people would wish to buy.

Hunt returned to the front of the store with two white pitchers made of stoneware. They had the same shape but one was about twice the size of the other.  Her friend was carrying the items so Hunt could work the transaction.

“What’s it worth to you? Kluska asked.

“I’ll give you $10 for both?” Hunt replied.

“Sounds good to me,” Kluska said, accepting two five-dollar bills.

The older woman on the sidewalk wanted some assistance.  What she asked was not audible from inside the store, but with her gesticulations, she was describing something about a foot wide and two feet tall.  Kluska nodded that she understood the product but then shook her head that she did not have one in stock. The older woman then picked up another lamp.

 

 

 

 

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