Whether or not you shop at some of the retail stores in Dumbo, it’s sad to see more than a few of them shut down in recent weeks. Small business owners take on risks to open up shops that they feel are needed in neighborhoods, and the Dumbo shops are no exception. Recently, ModernTots, Gallery qb, Indigo Handloom, and a few other retailers in Dumbo have closed in recent weeks. Journey Home (166 Water St.) is closing at the end of the month. They are having a storewide closeout sale until the end of February.
[Update: Indigo Handloom’s wholesale business is still in business and has an office at 10 Jay. Contact them if you’re interested in purchasing their scarves or clothing at a reduced price.]
Quincy, the owner of Gallery qb cited the lack of foot traffic and the lack of a street kiosk on the main strip and subway stations, directing traffic to lower profile shops throughout the neighborhood as reasons for the closure of his store. Pam at Journey Home agrees that it is the lack of foot traffic, especially after ABC Home and Carpet closed as the main reason for the lack of sales.
Despite the economic slowdown, we’ve found a few bright spots in Dumbo retail, one being the Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo. If you were around Dumbo this weekend, there were a lot of people in the neighborhood; many of them first timers to Dumbo. There were lots of people with cameras, foreigners who read about Dumbo in a magazine in their local countries, and Manhattanites who have never ventured into Brooklyn who said “Dumbo has everything I need”. The lines for the food vendors were 15-20+ minutes long during lunchtime and foot traffic seemed to venture to other stores (albeit probably mostly on Front and Washington Streets).
Bruce Marsh sold his half of ModernTots a year ago, but his company, Bruce Marsh Designs, who we interviewed just over a year ago is still seeing strong sales in his custom furniture business. He cited the high quality at reasonable prices, customization, and use of sustainable material. His flexibility with customers’ orders have won him continued business.
Cynthia at Dumbo Pet Care is reporting that her business is weathering the storm and doing well from repeat customers and positive word of mouth. While she is doing well, she understands how her customers may be facing job and bonus cuts, so she is offering 10-15% off grooming and having a storewide sale to help out neighbors.
And Mikey’s Hookup, open in Dumbo for 5 months hasn’t reported any loss of business. Mikey said to us “In my business, during bad economic conditions, customers feel that it might be better for them to repair their Apple computer than buy a new one. We provide both solutions in that case. Our Apple repair business has definitely seen an increase with the past few months. Mikey’s Hookup never has relied on foot traffic for business, but the Brooklyn Flea has been great exposure for us.”
Unemployment is at 7.6% and climbing, bonuses are being cut, and you’re unsure if your job is safe in these economic times. But stores can close at a moments notice. In a way, we in the community are the retailers’ economic stimulus. They have reached out to neighbors, given back to the community by holding events, and offer special deals for Dumbo residents. So although I’m not saying go spend your money on things you don’t need; next time you shop for something you need or for services, think about your neighborhood store and buy there. All of them are having sales so whatever you want/need, you’re getting a discount. They’ve been there for us, so let’s support them.
Crowds in Dumbo at the Brooklyn Flea (Feb 8, 2009)
(Dumbo retailers, we’d love to hear your thoughts and may have a follow up post in a few weeks. Contact us.)