“#Newly reopened NYC businesses get creative to peddle wares on sidewalks”
The novel selling tactics, first reported by West Side Rag, include newly-reopened retailers placing samples outdoors or planting chairs on the pavement to signal a store is open for business.
“People seem uncertain. I don’t think [they] really understand stores are open and, if they’re open, how are they open,” said John Koch, the owner of John Koch Antiques on the Upper West Side.
Koch, 60, described the months-long coronavirus shutdown as the “retail apocalypse” and said that, even with the partial reopening, he was “not optimistic about the future.”
Still, he sent out email alerts to clients and had installed 10 chairs Wednesday outside his shop on 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.
“[It’s] one of the ways we’re telling people that we’re open,” Koch told The Post. “Maybe they’ll inquire if they see furniture outside on the sidewalk.”
Under New York City’s Phase One reopening, which began Monday, a smattering of businesses large and small reopened to serve customers outside or to have them pick up previously ordered items.
At Harry’s Shoes, on 84th Street and Broadway, staffers even set up seating for people to try on footwear.
“It’s pretty fun to try on shoes outside because it’s so nice out today,” said Helen Schulman, 59, a novelist who kept her hand sanitizer handy as she hunted for Birkenstocks.
Emily Little, who was looking for shoes for her two- year-old son George, said it felt “good” to finally be out shopping.
“Part of me feel like I need to watch myself…,” Little said. “I need to be strategic with things I buy because everything is tight with finances right now.”
Allowing customers to try on shoes outside has been helpful with sales, said Brian Wixson, the store’s assistant manager for women’s shoes.
“It’s challenging! As far as business, it’s been good under the circumstances,” said Wixson. “We expected to just be doing web business and pickup. Customers trying on shoes outside has been helpful for us.”
“Everything is spaced out, so I’m not concerned about social distancing — I’m concerned about people strolling in.”
Meanwhile, a handful of mask-wearing customers browsed linens and bedding outside Down & Quilt Shop on Amsterdam Avenue near 85th Street.
“It’s kind of weird. We’ve never shopped like this,” said 21-year-old Sarah Getzler. “We were looking and happened to come by. It’s perfect weather to go out and shop.”
Co-owner Tracy Morse said she came up with the idea to set up an outdoor table for her wares as soon as she heard the city was beginning to lift its lockdown.
“As soon as we knew we were in Phase One we said let’s bring a table outside and let’s do it,” Morse said. “Also if people don’t need something right away, they know we’re back when they walk past, and word of mouth gets out.”
“We are so happy to be back,” she added. “People are walking past saying ‘I’m so happy you’re open.’ ”
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