Store owners along a Brooklyn commercial strip are finding new ways to draw customers into their stores, as they deal with the lingering effects of the slow economy. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
While 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge is known for its restaurants and retail, many stores have shuttered. Salvatore Forte owns the Hom Store. He says he's seen a decline in business for the last three years.
"Retail is definitely taking a hit. It's very hard,” Forte said. “It's challenging. And you always have to keep it spicy. So that's the obstacles we're trying to overcome."
Home is stocked with an eclectic mix of home accessories, from furniture and vases to candles and jewelry. But with fewer and fewer people spending, Forte had to re-think his marketing strategy.
So he decided to re-use his space. Out went big-ticket furniture items and in came electric griddles. Forte began serving Sunday brunch in the back of his store nearly three years ago, and the customers followed.
"They have a beautiful brunch. The chef is absolutely amazing,” he said. “They have a little sangria and then they do a little shopping. So it is bringing more business into the shop."
And to help drum up more business, the Hom Store took part in a first-time marketing event on Thursday dubbed "Girls Night Out.” A disco ball and drinks help set the tone as the Suite nightclub was transformed into a chic boutique.
Jovi Offito organized the affair.
"We were trying to boost momentum in Bay Ridge and we came out with a girls night out event, and it would encourage people in a party-like atmosphere to have fun and shop and spend money,” explained Offito, director of events at The Brooklyn Social.
About two-dozen local merchants set up tables showcasing what they have to offer to potential new customers.
"I’m trying to meet as many people as I can,” said personal trainer Peter Chiarchiaro, who was trying to expand his client list. “Share my philosophy."
Those who attended were signing up and shelling out.
"I've never seen this store before, but I was attracted to their blouses. I love them,” said shopper Marisa Centra. “I love to shop, drink, party, and that's that."
Vendors hope to capitalize on the momentum. Forte handed out brunch coupons and a menu. And to accommodate new potential customers, he's getting the yard ready.
The Hom Store plans on expanding its offerings once again, with a lunch menu.