Albany Business Review

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‘I don’t know where else we would go’

Cassie Fiorenza and her husband, Sam, were living in Hoboken, New Jersey, when stay-at-home orders were issued in March to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

They thought it would last a couple of weeks.

By the end of the month, they decided they should get out of metro New York. Their destination: Fiorenza’s parents’ home in Loudonville.

“I never thought I would come back upstate,” she said, “let alone move in with my parents when I’m married.”

New York City, after all, was the place to be.

Fiorenza worked in art galleries. Their apartment across the Hudson River was a train ride away from everything the city has to offer: restaurants, nightlife, culture.

“We both felt at some point we wanted to get out, but we never really thought that was possible because our work was so connected to the city,” she said.

As the weeks progressed in Loudonville, they thought about the advantages of not living near New York: less density, lower costs, slower pace.

“We just started talking about what if we did move up here?” Fiorenza said. “My sister and her husband are very connected with the area. We started thinking this might be a good place.”

She added, “Since we were living with my parents, I got more appreciation for up here than I did growing up. Part of me was worried that I would miss the city, but it started to become clearer the city wouldn’t be the same for a while. My other friends started leaving the city and moving away.”

They have flexibility with their jobs since Johnson is able to work remotely. Fiorenza’s dream was to open an art gallery.

She was concerned living upstate would be too far from clients. So she started an online gallery geared toward promoting emerging female artists. The site ended up getting good traction. That convinced her to take the next step and rent a building in Saratoga Springs.

The gallery and design shop, Collective 131, opened Oct. 27 at 74 Beekman St. in the city’s arts district.

“It’s definitely been a little scary not knowing if people were going to come or if things were going to shut down again, but I went with it,” she said. “Starting a business in a pandemic I know isn’t normal, but it felt like the right move. It started off slow. People started coming in and I’ve gotten a good response.”

They’re renting an apartment in Saratoga Springs and looking at homes for sale. They expect to be here for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know where else we would go,” Fiorenza said.

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