Longtime Ridgewood Chocolate Shop Closing

Oliver's Chocolate owner Oliver Abel says he's seen an erosion in support for Downtown Ridgewood from residents and the Village Council.

After more than a decade serving homemade chocolates to Ridgewood, the owner of is packing away the cocoa and closing shop.

Owner Oliver Abel, a former Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce president, said he is turning over the 'closed' sign for the final time at the end of May. His shop has served cholocates on East Ridgewood Ave for 13 years.

"If the economy weren't so bad I might reconsider but I'm not sure I would," he said. "With the economy down, with foot traffic down, I sense a change in the community, a lack of support for the downtown – in support from residents as well as the village council."

Abel said he is returning to his finance roots by launching an internet startup specializing in retirement planning.

"The lease is up, not that the landlord isn't kind enough to renew the lease but it comes a point where you have to say enough's enough,"  said Abel, a long-time Ridgewood resident. "I've been doing it for 13 years. ... It was spectacular for 10 of those 13 years but recently [the economic downturn] is really kicking in."

The chocolate shop is the , following the end of March closing of . And The Gap, also on E. Ridgewood Ave., consolidated its Ridgewood operations by  and folding its merchandise into its remaining store.

"[Customers] come in and they're very sad we're leaving," Abel said."I've had some customers say 'you're the last vestige of the old-style kind of retail shop in Ridgewood' and that they're sorry to see that go.

"Is this an indication of a new type of Ridgewood or a deterioration of Ridgewood?" he asked.

Asked what he said he'd like to see take the place of Oliver's, Abel said a unique gift place or a hardware store would be a good replacement. 

The villager said he believes the building owner, Frankches Realty Corp., is trying to fill the space, but pointed to vacancies in the village that have been unfilled for several years as a concern. 

Abel suggested the town levy fees on property owners in the downtown who leave storefronts empty for extended periods of time.

"There are a lot of vacancies. Have a fee placed on the landlord for that vacancy. Give them six months to try and fill it," he said. "If they don't or they don't want to lower the rents, that's fine. But they've got to pay a fee. And have that fee go back to the people in town."

Abel also remarked that the variety of businesses should be more diverse, and levied the age-old complaint – parking remains an issue.

In recent council budget discussions, there's been some chatter on reviving the into a public/private partnership. Abel suggested turning the Hudson lot into a two or three-story garage that could accommodate commuters.

"I had over the years other large chain store representatives come into my store and say 'we're interested in that space or that space,'" Abel said. "They'd say 'we like the town but where's the parking?'" They'd look at me and say 'we're out of here.'"

Laurie Jones April 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Actually, You are the vicious one - and very rude, to boot. Just checked out your profile, you own a real estate operation so you are well aware of the "triple net" lease that prevails in Ridgewood. Why would you be so anti supportive of the little guy? If I were looking for a space in town and you were the one who held the listing, I would not be interested. Hope all villagers get wise to you - you're an evil person. Laurie
Eugene J. Ferraro April 20, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Laurie, You are correct I do have a Real Estate Business, I'm also a landlord and a property manager and have been for 35 years right here in the "Village"(I feel like I am in a Hitchcock movie). Do you even know what a "triple net lease " is? I'm sorry to inform you that triple net leases do not prevail in the "Village". Some lease include taxes, insurance and building maintenance. Ok now you have now passed store leasing 101. The Evil One.
MG April 20, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Excuses, excuses, excuses. Blame the Landlord.Why not become more current and stay with new trends. Sook, Gardiner & Co, Ridgewood Coffee, to name a few. Good business plans. We do not need stale merchants.
Harry June 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I do not even pretend to know how to fix the problems in Ridgewood. I will say that Mr Ferraro should be listened to.Yes He is a realtor,and his business depends on rent. Should he lose money on his propeties? No way. He has been in this town for ages,I know because I grew up in Ridgewood.He wants Ridgewood to thrive just like the rest of us and being in Ridgewood as long as he and his family has maybe people should at least listen to his views before shooting him down.
Dorothy July 07, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Yes, Mary Beth, I agree with you. Many of the merchants are stale and looking at the window displays and through the doors does not tempt one to enter. South Broad Street looks interesting. It has character. In my trips to town, where I usually find parking without trouble (a sign that the downtown is waning) I tend to go to certain businesses as destination stops without browsing: T&C Pharmacy, Papyrus, the UPS store, Jekyl, and Hyde, Ridgewood Cleaners and Just Our Shoes. Downtown does not have the charm it ince had. Williams Sonoma was great to have. Please bring back a hardware store and a gift store. I also agree with the comment asking why the shops are closed at night when people are out to eat, even on Thursday nights now. Better quality restaurants would help greatly too -- that is another story.


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