Children’s clothing store to shutter in Johnstown after decades in business

Interior of Something Special, a children’s boutique, in Johnstown on Oct. 13, 2020.

Interior of Something Special, a children’s boutique, in Johnstown on Oct. 13, 2020.

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JOHNSTOWN — West Main Street will lose Something Special.

The decades-old family business in downtown Johnstown is set to close on June 30 due, in part, to sales eroding since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It started after that and just hasn’t picked up,” said owner Nancy Blanchard. “You can’t really compete with the internet anymore.”

While “looking for something to do,” Blanchard took over children’s clothing store Elaine’s Kiddie Wear in 1985 and later renamed the establishment to reflect changes in ownership. Something Special moved from a leased storefront on S. Market St. to its current location in the late 1980s.

Daughter and 30-year employee Louanne VanNostrand has taken on a more active role in the business within recent years as Blanchard set aside time to care for her husband, who struggles with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Talks over the fate of Something Special began after the holiday season — a bellwether moment for some small retailers. As a result of dismal returns and minimum wage increases, the choice became clear.

“With the minimum wage, which is all I’ve ever been able to pay [VanNostrand], when it went up, that cut into the little bit of profit that we had,” Blanchard said.

Something Special announced the decision to shut down on Facebook earlier this week.

Blessings and memories of the W. Main Street staple flooded the comments. Johnstown resident Sueann Wing warmly remembered buying pieces worn by her children and grandchildren.

“Your store has always held a special place in my heart,” she wrote.

Something Special has long prided itself on having ornate window displays and carrying specialty apparel, especially dancewear. Blanchard lauded her 59-year-old for building on the shop’s existing rapport with the community.`

“You get to know your customers,” said the 83-year-old owner. “You get to know who they are, what they like, even the colors they like and you build a relationship over the years.”

Between now and the end of June, the shop is tasked with selling off a high-volume inventory. Something Special has slashed prices for Melissa & Doug brand merchandise 10% and 20% for the rest.

Once the business is closed, Blanchard, who owns the building, aims to lease out the storefront to a new owner as soon as possible in order to avoid bearing additional fiscal woes.

The change won’t make much of a scheduling difference for Blanchard, who has already been distant from the business to help her husband. VanNostrand’s calendar is expected to open up.

“She’s got two little grandchildren now and she’ll have more time to spend with them,” said Blanchard. “Two adorable little grandchildren.”

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil

By Tyler A. McNeil

Tyler A. McNeil is a nine-year multimedia journalist and southern Saratoga County native. Currently, McNeil covers the southern Adirondacks and northern Mohawk Valley with the Daily Gazette and Leader-Herald. He also specializes in political, investigative and transit-related coverage. The University at Albany graduate's reporting has appeared in a variety of outlets, including Buzzfeed, New Food, Saratoga Today and the Times Union.

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