Second Avenue Businesses Hindered By Subway Construction To Form Alliance
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is attempting a new approach to help businesses struggling to survive while construction continues on the second avenue subway. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
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For the past six years, owning a business on the stretch of Second Avenue from 68th Street all the way to 101st has been a challenge.
The owner of Pepi's Hair Design said she opened up shop a year before the subway construction started. The customers just aren't coming.
"Very bad," she said. "I can say like 60, 70 percent down. Little by little, we're just dying.
While it's too late save her business, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is spearheading a new effort to help other Second Avenue shop owners organize into a formal business alliance. The initiative is funded as part of a $20,000 grant from TD Bank.
"What this money is allowing us to do is develop that organization, and actually help them, teach them, get them to be able to be self-sufficient," said Nancy Ploeger, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
The MTA and the chamber are partners on various initiatives to ease the pain of the subway construction, but there is no independent organization specifically representing merchants here. The new group will be run by a Board of Directors comprised of the shop owners.
"If all of them want to do more marketing, or all of them want to do more security, or all of them want to do more technology, whatever it is they want to do, they can really work together once they have an association," Ploeger said.
It's an idea that that Enselow Shoes owner Bob Schwartz emphatically supports.
"Not one of us is big enough or strong enough to be able to market on behalf of our little store," Schwartz said. "On the other hand, if 20 of us or 50 of us band together we can market, we can share promotions, we can make sure that we reach the community."
The chamber and some of the business owners hope that the alliance will exist long after all this construction is gone.
"You have to start somewhere, and the first thing is to get the merchants to work together," Schwartz said.
"Our mission is to drive customers to keep these businesses alive," Ploeger said.
The hope is that organizing the community is the first step towards making that happen.