Championing the mom-and-pop store ethos of Uptown Kingston

Karen Clark Adin (photo by Dion Ogust)

Karen Clark Adin (photo by Dion Ogust)

Stockade businesswoman Karen Clark Adin to move Bop to Tottom to more spacious digs at the corner of Wall & North Front Streets

Call her prejudiced on the subject, but Karen Clark Adin feels like things are finally coming around in Kingston’s Uptown area. Clark Adin owns Bop to Tottom, the eclectic gift store that has, for the past 15 years, stood at the corner of John and Wall Streets.

Her shop has been an anchor for the Uptown mom-and-pops that have been nesting under and near the shade of Uptown’s newly renovated Pike Plan awnings. And now she’s picking up that anchor and moving it exactly one block up Wall Street, the better to enjoy those awnings (no more snow-shoveling!) and to go a little deeper into the heart of the city that she fell in love with some 35  years ago.

Clark Adin grew up in Syracuse. She has never forgotten the thrill of accompanying her grandmother when she was a girl on monthly jaunts to the department stores of downtown Syracuse: visits that meant getting dressed up and having lunch among ladies wearing white gloves, jaunty hats and other such Sunday finery. At the same time, her memories are just as fierce and fond of the Syracuse Regional Market, where local produce was to be had in abundance.

Clark Adin came to Kingston in 1979. One look at Uptown triggered her lifelong wish to own and operate a store of her own. She loved it even when Uptown was looking anything but up, watching with dismay as the mom-and-pops of an earlier era – Yallum’s clothing and shoe store, London’s Department Store, Schneller’s Meat Market, Rafalowsky’s men’s store, the Mohican Market – shuttered after chain stores sprung up like mushrooms along Kingston’s highways.

It took some years, but by 1994, Clark Adin found a perch on Wall Street, where for the next six years she worked as operations coordinator for the long-gone and much-lamented Anyone Can Whistle shop in the old Standard Furniture building where BSP is located today, half a block up from where Bop to Tottom has been since 2000. (By the by, Clark Adin also founded the Kingston’s Farmers’ Market that same year.)

Clark Adin believes that the retailing pendulum has swung the other way after all these years – away from big-box stores. She has only to point to the Farmers’ Market and her own shop to buttress that opinion, let alone the list of other locally owned shops that have recently come to roost in Uptown: Sissy’s Cafe, Boitson’s Restaurant, Frogmore Tavern, The Tappen, Yum Yum Noodle Bar and Duo on the culinary front, and popular relatively new businesses like the Stockade Tavern, Outdated, Fleisher’s Craft Butchery, Tech Smiths and Rhino Records, to name a few.

It’s not like Uptown will do to big-box stores what big-box stores did to Uptown back when. It’s just that there’s a different energy about shopping and strolling and lunching Uptown these days; and energy, as far as Clark Adin’s concerned, is what successful retailing is all about. “I call it ‘conscious commerce,’” she said last week. “My philosophy of life is that everything is about the exchange of energy.”

She believes that the energy shoppers bring to, let’s say, buying a gift, translates from the shop to the shopper to the person being gifted. “Giving and sending positive energy is essential,” Clark Adin said. “So after we move, we’ll launch our ‘Get Your Love On and Shop for a Cause’ campaign and select certain shopping weekends in which a chosen local charity will be gifted a portion of our proceeds.”

There’s other evidence to be found, she said. “Independent retailers are a community-minded breed. When you go to a Little League game and see all these banners and signs of support in the outfield, it’s all locals doing that. That’s what we’re all about up here.”

And that, she concludes, is why the mom-and-pop ethos that continues to power Uptown will win out over every big, boxy obstacle.


Bop to Tottom’s grand opening at its new location will be celebrated on Friday, October 23, 4 p.m. at 334 Wall Street in Kingston. Call (845) 338-8100 for details.



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  1. I love shopping at your store - such a wonderful selection of merchandise. You and your staff are extremely helpful with ideas and suggestions for gifts. I can’t wait to visit you in your new digs!

  2. Karen Adin and Bop to Tottom (her fabulous creation) are both gifts to uptown Kingston!

    She has shown dedication and perserverence and has used her intelligence, creativity and big, beautiful personality to help uptown Kingston get back on its feet!

    I wish her all the best in her new digs!

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