Montclair Facing Olympic Loss?

We’re not talking gold, bronze, or silver medals here… We’ve heard from various sources that the venerable haberdashery, Olympic, in Upper Montclair, may be closing its doors. It’s been a cornerstone of community shopping for years, purveying dedicated consumers with with the likes of Polo and Tommy Bahama, a steady supply of Brighton and everything Vera Bradley. While the talk of their closing is just a rumor, the very attentive help were uncharacteristically unhelpful when we inquired. We called the store a second time to find out what was up, and found the owner very tight lipped. He told us “I have nothing to report. I am not saying anything until everything is nailed down.” Hmmmm…..We’ll keep you posted as we hear more.
We can, however, confirm another retail shake up in Upper Montclair:


Orion Books on Valley Road, which has been supplying word crafters, readers, and party throwers with inspiring and off-beat necessities, is closing its historic doors after 24 1/2 years, says owner Rosemary Schweighardt. A sale sign in the window looked suspicious to a reader who tipped us off(“they never have sales”). Rosemary told us she’s decided to move on — and out of town. Orion will stay open until sometime in July – so no need to panic about finding the perfect graduation or Father’s Day card.
The charming digs that Orion inhabits was deemed a “key” building in the township’s proposed Historic Upper Montclair Business District. And when a favortie hang-out like Orion closes, it’s bound to get us a little sentimental. Here’s how one reader described it:

I’ve been a stationery-store junkie since childhood, and Orion had one of the most extensive and eclectic assortment of cards in town, as well as many tempting trinkets and beautiful journals and photo albums. I always felt I could sort of sense the personality of the store’s owner or buyer. For instance, I’m guessing that it’s a “she” and that she is a cat lover, because there were also many great cat cards. (No fear: dogs were not neglected.) In the decade I’ve lived in town, I’m sure I’ve happily dropped several thousand dollars there. I also love the ambiance of the historic building, from the screen door and the canvas awning to the tin ceiling.

There are whispers of a cafe and chocolatier going in to the Orion’s locale, and Rosemary has heard something about a bakery opening in its place.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I like Orion, but I only go in there once in a blue moon. Olympic I won’t miss at all.
    A bakery would be fabulous–especially a bakery that sold plain old freshly baked bread for something less than $100 a loaf.

  2. Walleroo, off with you to a place on Harrison Avenue in Lodi called “Vita Mia,” which carries fresh bread from several great local Italian (and Polish) bakeries. This will save you the hassle of seeking out each indivdual bakery in Garfield, Lodi and Wallington.

  3. That’s too bad about Orion. Being a cat person, I always love the cards in that store, and it was alway a pleasant place to shop. I hate seeing small, independent places like that closing down.

  4. Wow, this may be a first–I find myself agreeing with ROC on something! I spotted the sale signs in Orion’s window yesterday and had a Bad Feeling…will miss this lovely shop very much. I love strolling in there for cards, books, photo albums and gift wrap. It’s such a wonderful neighborhood place, I’m sad to see it go. While I’d love either a chocolatier or bakery in the neighborhood, I wish it were in addition to, not in place of, Orion.

  5. I loved the years when her cat would greet me at the door. So many special things that I bought there. Orion will be missed.
    The Olympic shop as well, since I could run in and always find something without heading to a mall for a gift (especially for a man, although perhaps my gifts to ROC were re-gifted).

  6. I must admit that I only walked into Olympic once over the years and on that one occasion I couldn’t really find anything I liked. It all reminded me of the shop in “Are You Being Served”, minus the lady with yellow hair. I don’t think I was their tartget market.

  7. walleroo, it is no such thing. Right across the Passaic River on 46, first exit on the other side River Road to Lodi. It is a long ways sociologically, maybe, but not by car or paw.

  8. I always loved Olympic for my son’s MKA duds — perfect one stop shopping without all that mind-boggling choice. So much better than a trip to several mall stores. The staff actually helped us shop, not just pay. Said MKA tyke now being a young adult with highly particular tastes it no longer fills more than a last-minute holiday shopping gap, but still, I hate to see them go. They’ve been good to us.

  9. i’ve got a corny, but true story: around 10 years ago, a bunch of wireless gear became a tenant on the roof of the Olympic(god forbid you couldn’t call Muffy from anywhere, anytime and talk about nothing)so my jobs’ duties bring me there and I meet this nice older gentleman who shows me around. i don’t know if he was the owner or a shoe-horn salesman, but he told me that, long ago, he met his wife there. no kidding. the end

  10. Veronica, how necessary was it to mention that it was your son’s “MKA” duds rather than his “school clothes”? Do they make the children at MKA wear clothes of spun gold?

  11. While I feel sad about the possible closing of the two stores, having frequented both over the past 21 years, their closings seem to be their own decision.
    It does not appear that a rapacious landlord is forcing them out. Both owners deserve a break after so many years of dutiful service.

  12. Nice comment DS.
    re Olympic Shop, I recall another upscale mens’ shop, Geismar Kaplan that closed.
    Just a comment but loyalty
    isn’t what it once was.
    It is sad, when a small
    store closes… chances are a larger store, possibly a “chain” , will come in.
    Now w/ the lack of time, internet shopping.
    I was talking to someone the other day about what a lost leader is. Big chain stores often have a few items(at low prices) as an illusion( the balance of prices is often 10% to 20% higher) and the lack of customer service/knowledge. And of course, you have to have a
    “membership card” that keeps & resells that information.
    I see it frequently & wonder.

  13. walleroo, when was the last time you “walked” for a loaf of bread? Or even hopped with a young’un in your pouch? Come now.

  14. Olympic is also the best (most inexpensive)place to rent a prom tux. The gentleman who helped my sons is the epitome of a courteous retail salesperson.

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