October 20, 2008
Downturn-resistant Bronxville watches the weather
By MARY SUE IAROCCI
Bronxville’s downtown remains a retail marvel as evidenced by the crowds on Pondfield and Palmer roads and down side streets like Park Place and Kraft Avenue. Long busy during the day, the village’s hot restaurant scene now makes nighttime parking a challenge, as well.
“During these times, it is more important than ever to support our local merchants and help sustain our downtown businesses,” said Mayor Mary Marvin
At Topp’s Bakery on Pondfield Road, co-owner Jacqueline Majers Lachman said in September prices on baked goods rose about 5 percent across the board (except for coffee and beverages) to make up for skyrocketing flour prices.
To make up for that, “we tried to think of new ways to offer value to the consumers,” Lachman said.
One way was to increase store hours, closing at 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., upping the convenience quotient, especially for commuters.
A second new initiative is offering a free gift tag with a wrapped candy-packaged purchase for the same price as what a greeting card would typically cost.
“We just want to be responsive to consumers,” said Lachman, who owns the bakery with her husband, R. Heath Lachman. “I think that the economy’s in everyone’s face right now, but it’s really all about how you’re addressing it.”
Jonathan Gordon of Admiral Real Estate.
Customer service at Bronxville’s small, mostly independent retailers “separates us from a department store” and keeps customers loyal, said Adrienne M. Ganz, owner of Enchanté, a women’s specialty boutique.
“We’ve been hearing, at least once or twice a day, customers saying that they plan to shop local this holiday season,” Ganz said. “They do want to support the village and that’s really appreciated. It gives us a nice feeling to know that our customers are concerned about us.”
Ganz said the store has gifts for every price point, although mid-range items have been selling well lately.
“People are being a little more cautious, but I don’t think women really want to go without their lipstick or skin care,” Ganz said. “We also see Bronxville becoming more of a destination on Sundays. We see a lot of new faces on the weekend, which definitely helps business.”
Alfredo Cruz, president of The Wine and Spirits Emporium of Bronxville Ltd. on Pondfield Road, has heard shop owners express concern over dwindling business over the past couple of months.
After 25 years in business at the same location, Cruz has survived tough economic times before.
“People who enjoy wine and have wine with dinner every night are still going to have their glass of wine,” Cruz said. “Right now, we’re holding our own, but I don’t know what’s going to happen in our last quarter. Being the optimist that I am, either way we’ll survive it.”
Cruz said the last quarter, or the next three months, are important for his business. He has seen revenue losses of up to 25 percent in other recessions and tough economic times. Jonathan Gordon, president of Admiral Real Estate Services in Bronxville, said the company represents about 60 percent of leasing in downtown Bronxville.
“From having spoken to a number of tenants, they have had a surprisingly good summer,” Gordon said. “This year, rumblings of a slow economy were balanced by the fact that less people went away and stayed local and shopped.”
Gordon said a couple of retailers that he’s working with have slowed down their expansion plans to just wait and see what’s happening.
“When things are bad, Bronxville seems to weather the storm,” Gordon said. “We saw that in the early 90s. My glass is always half full, but the proof will be how people do after the holidays.”