“I’m excited. I think there’s going to be more of a conceptual turn. At the end of the year, I hope to break even. A lot of my friends who run galleries have broken even. They’re not cleaning up like they did before, but they’re not dying.”
Jennifer Wirtz, Gallery Director, Milk Gallery (Chelsea)
Downsizing Is an Option
“The general mood is ‘Let’s just get through this.’ You find where you make your money and get rid of all the excess. Get back to basics. If things aren’t working, I’ll just open a smaller store. I’m a survivor; I’m not going to sit back and bankrupt myself. This economy keeps you on your toes. It’s good to shake up life every now and then.”
Kim D’Amato, Owner, Priti Organic Spa
The Broke Customer
“Some people are actually a little apologetic when they come in, saying, ‘I’m sorry, James, I got laid off last month, I wanted to say hi, but I can’t buy anything today,’ and I say, ‘no problem.’ ”
James Bradley, Manager, Sound Fix (Williamsburg)
Nothing Left to Lose
Has Jacklyn’s been affected by the economy?
How much so?
A great deal.
Is it that you’re not getting walk-in traffic?
No walk-in traffic and nobody really spending.
Are you noticing any patterns in buying shifting?
No, it has nothing to do with style, color, or shape.
Does it have to do with price?
No, not at all.
Have you changed your selling strategy at all? Have you lowered prices?
Yeah, we lowered it below cost, actually. Trying to move it out. Everyone’s just holding back.
What kind of strategies have you been using to get through this?
There’s nothing really you do. I’ve been here 30 years, and I’ve never seen it like this.
Jack Soleimani, Owner, Jacklyn’s Boutique (Forest Hills)
“People buy only the basics. milk, orange juice, cans of soup, bread, bagels. No ice cream. No Entenmann’s cakes, no cereal, no crackers.”
Tony Gomaa, Owner, Empire Deli & Grocery (Forest Hills)
The Plastic Epidemic
“People come in and use credit cards for a $2.50 slice. People never used to do that, but now we take it. I mean, we don’t really want to, but we have to or lose a customer.”
John Licata, Manager, Mariella Pizza (Midtown)
The Rent Game
“Our lease is over soon, and our rent might go up. But I talked to our landlord a couple of weeks ago and I said we needed to extend our lease and he didn’t really say no. We didn’t really talk about what the numbers would be, because we both assumed that I wouldn’t be able to afford what Ralph Lauren is affording. Or maybe even they’re not affording it.”
Carolyn Epstein and Charles Mullen, Owners, Biography Bookshop
“The opportunity for us is that with all the unemployment, there’s really good talent right now, and my focus is getting that talent.”
Howard Brodsky, CEO, New York Health & Racquet Club
The Weird Stuff Sells
“The more unusual labels are selling. the more avant-garde, The sequined pants for men from Balenciaga are the first things to fly out the door. Flamboyance, not stringency.”
Simon Doonan, Creative Director, Barneys
“People are buying more somber pieces—primarily black. also, they’re willing to blow some money on one big piece that makes them happy.”
Yanina Landsaat, Owner, Don the Verb Vintage Store (Lower East Side)
Who Do You Really Love?
“People won’t send flowers to an aunt, though they will send to a mother or a father. they also won’t buy for themselves. I think they are expecting someone else to get it for them.”
Theodore Zois, Manager, Ariston Florist (Chelsea)
Time to Grow
“You can sit there and cry about it, or you can figure out your next move. For me, my next move was to take advantage of the landlord’s making concessions, so I signed a ten-year lease for a store on 35th Street. it’s going to be my flagship.”
Woody Schneider, Owner, Grand Central Racquet
The Daily Grind
“The amount of espresso drinks versus drip coffee has definitely flip-flopped. The average sale per customer has dropped between 20 and 40 cents. Which is significant when you multiply it 800 times a day.”
Jonathan Rubinstein, Owner, Joe the Art of Coffee (East Village)