All isn’t grand on Grand street.
Retail businesses on the Williamsburg block have been struggling this summer more than last year due to customers altering their spending habits during the economic recession. But several owners believe another factor has depressed foot-traffic along the neighborhood’s commercial corridor.
For four weeks earlier this summer, nine blocks of Bedford Avenue were shut down to vehicular traffic as part of the city’s Summer Streets initiative, Williamsburg Walks.Thousands of residents and visitors streamed through the streets to play games, see artwork, and buy crafts and trinkets from street vendors.According to several owners, few visited local businesses on Grand Street during that time.
“Summer months are the hardest months of the year in New York,” said Alyssa Key, CEO of the clothing store Love Brigade (230 Grand Street). “I understand their assumption that if you bring more people to Williamsburg there will be more foot traffic, but we have had so many zero dollar days when Williamsburg Walks happens.”
Key and other business owners off Grand Street were frustrated by the street closures, particularly since the economy is still slow.Key has tried to organize retail and restaurant establishments on the block during the year and, after travelling for much of the summer, is preparing to circulate a petition this week among her commercial neighbors to alert Community Board 1 and the city about her concerns of the effect of Summer Streets among businesses on Grand Street.
“For them to be doing this while the economy is in this state, there should be more reason to reach out to commercialoff Bedford Avenue,” said Key.
Ilyane Rooey, owner of Franny and Rooey (252 Grand), said that every time Williamsburg Walks occurred, traffic into her store and others nearby was nonexistent. While she was dissatisfied with the effects of the program this year, Rooey would welcome an invitation from Williamsburg Walks organizers to set up retail booths on Bedford next year.
“It’s unfortunate that something that is supposed to be benefiting local businesses is sucking the neighborhood dry,”said Rooey.
Some help may be coming.NAG, along withthe East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation (EWVIDCO), recently received a $40,000 grant to revitalize the Northside merchants’ associatio
Michael FreedmanSchnapp, co-chair of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, which helps organize Williamsburg Walks, said, “We would love to have the participation of any local businesses in the Summer Streets program,”and remained open to discussing new collaborations in the coming year.
Freedman-Schnapp noted that there would be an open meeting in early October to plan next year’s Summer Streets, but did not have a firm date and location yet.Key said that she would welcome an opportunity to give her input and even floated the idea of doing a similar Summer Streets fair on Grand Street to familiarize visitors with the stores on her block.
For now, she hopes that business will pick up in the fall.
“If our wholesale weren’t doing well, we would have closed up shop,” said Key.
©2009 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not BrooklynDaily.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynDaily.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.