Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Wally Hirsch retires, sells Binley’s, new T-Bell coming?

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wally Hirsch, the owner of Binley’s garden center and florist, told The Chronicle he has sold the property at the corner of Quaker Road and Dix Avenue in Queensbury to a Taco Bell franchisee, Hospitality Syracuse, Inc.

Mr. Hirsch has also retired.

He said the “complicated” deal for the roughly 7.25-acre property “got me where I wanted to be…$1.25-[million].”

He said the buyers purchased the entire property and then sold the Binley’s business to Tami Field, its 26-year general manager, and her husband David.

Binley’s will “continue at the same location with the possibility of future relocation,” Mr. Hirsch said in a press release.

He said a Taco Bell is planned next to Dunkin’ Donuts, “the area where we grow the mums in the field, and where we have the bulk mulch.”

Hospitality Syracuse is on the February 21 Queensbury Town Planning Board agenda applying for a subdivision.

One lot would be 5.83 acres to “maintain the existing Binley’s Florist buildings,” the other a 1.35 acre lot for a “restaurant with drive thru.”

Mr. Hirsch said Hospitality Syracuse initially considered operating Binley’s because of its strong business numbers.

Ultimately, though, he said they could not find a “grower” to operate it.

“They said, will you stay? And I said, no, I’m retiring,” Mr. Hirsch laughed.

“It’s hard to find a grower. And I knew that because I tried to sell it to every garden center and greenhouse I could find between here and the Canadian border and out to Vermont.”

Binley’s staff in 2018, at its 125th anniversary. The Chronicle took this photo in one of Binley’s 25 greenhouses for the anniversary spotlight section we published on April 26, 2018. From left: owners Wally, Jeff and Kate Hirsch; Susie Spellacy, Marina Clute, Kathy Clark, general manager Tammy Field, Lauren Lebowitz, and seasonal workers Miguel Espinoza and Vincente Diaz.

Manager buys florist business

Mr. Hirsch said he’s “very excited” that Ms. Field has purchased the business. “That’s what I really wanted — it to go on one way or the other.”

Mr. Hirsch said it will be a different Binley’s. “She’s not a grower. She’s not a greenhouse person, but she’s a crackerjack designer, and she’ll provide the services the flower shop has always provided.”

Designer Kathy Clark, with Binley’s for 24 years, and Shaylene Stewart and Sydney O’Leary will continue on as well.

Mr. Hirsch, now 75 years old, said it is time to retire, although “my wife [Kate], after a week with me, may have enough to get rid of me.”

“It’s a family business. I graduated from college in 1967. By itself, that’s 56 years. And because it’s a family business, I’ve worked all my life doing small jobs. And probably since I was 15, I probably worked weekends and after school and things like that. So yeah. So I’ve been doing it awful long time,” he said.

Binley’s local mainstay since 1893

Binley’s has operated locally for 129 years, owned by just two families.

Arthur Binley, who came to the U.S. from England, started the business in 1893 on Grant Avenue in Glens Falls.

After his death in 1930, his son, also Arthur Binley, continued it.

Alexander Hirsch — who came from Hungary — started working at Binley’s in 1933. He and Mr. Binley incorporated the florist business in 1945.

In 1961, the younger Arthur Binley died, and Mr. Hirsch bought the rest of the ownership from the Binley family.

In 1978, Binley’s bought the corner property at Quaker Road and Dix Avenue for a garden center and eventually consolidated the entire business there.

Alexander Hirsch died in 1993. His son Wally said his own children Jeff, Dave and Sarah were “all active” at Binley’s in their youth but are now in other careers.

“Binley’s has been in operation uninterrupted since 1893. It has faced many challenges…two World Wars, two pandemics, multiple recessions,” Wally wrote.

“I want to thank all of our loyal customers who have supported us throughout these many years. I appreciate the trust placed in us to mark and highlight the events in your lives and for brightening your homes with the plants and flowers we grew,” he added.

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