With more restaurants and retail stores filling empty storefronts on Grand Street in Williamsburg, local businesses are trying to mobilize and offer sales in an effort to increase traffic to the corridor, starting with a sales event called Second Fridays on Nov. 14.
A group of local retail owners on Grand Street, nearly all of them women, met at the Love Brigade and Friends flagship store (230 Grand Street) to discuss working together to make their block more inviting for customers. Their first coordinated event will feature the extension of normal business hours to 10 or 11 p.m. on the second Friday of every month starting this November. In addition to later closing times, businesses and restaurants will feature drink specials and discounts on merchandise, in an effort to draw Bedford Street shoppers a few blocks away to Grand.
“The group is growing and getting stronger,” C.C. McGurr, owner of Fille De Joie, a women’s vintage fashion store on 197 Grand Street, said. “When people come to Grand Street, they’re dedicated customers. We have fewer walk-ins and browsers than Bedford Avenue.”
The business collective, tentatively known as Grand Village, has been discussing ways to attract more customers as well as foster a sense of community among the businesses along the corridor. Ideas such as future block parties, printing brochures of local businesses, adding a uniform set of Christmas lights and decorations, and designer sidewalk sales tied to the holidays are in the works.
With the Christmas shopping season fast approaching, the retail climate in Brooklyn and across the country could be unpredictable due to the recent months of economic crisis. Local businesses believe that increasing sales and planning community events such as block parties go hand in hand.
“If we really pull together, we can really make this block a better place to live and work,” McGurr said. “Coordination is key. Then we can make Bedford jealous.”
Alyssa Key of Love Brigade, which dissolved its co-op and celebrated its grand reopening on Nov. 1, has been traveling between Brooklyn and North Florida to open a satellite store featuring her designs. Even though Key, along with partners Jamie Rockaway and Tinypants, have been promoting their start-up clothing line in fashion showcases and magazines around the world, they understand the importance of having a storefront retail presence in Williamsburg.
“Williamsburg is where all the trendsetters live and the trend seekers shop,” Key said.
For new businesses opening on Grand Street, capturing the business of this influential demographic remains key to long-term survival in Williamsburg. Ilyane Roey, a co-owner of the men’s and women’s vintage store, Franny & Roey, opened her shop only last week. She has already seen a steady flow of interested shoppers who frequent Grand Street businesses.
“It’s great! I’m really excited about this group of businesses,” Roey said. “Grand is coming up in a way that we didn’t expect but we got in at the right time.”
The Grand Village business owners hope that Second Fridays becomes a tradition, similar to Bedford Street’s Williamsburg Walks. The group is already planning its next event, Gift on Grand, on Dec. 12–14, which will feature further discounts for attentive shoppers.
Second Fridays will begin on Nov. 14, when local businesses will extend their hours to 10 or 11 p.m. For more information about Second Fridays and to join the Grand Village’s regular meetings, email info@loveb