Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Much is that Nothing in the Window?

photo from  antwerpenR, flickr.com

Retail up and down Bedford Street has always been a mystery to me.  Some storefronts languish for ages.  Others house stores where - I swear - I've never seen anyone enter or exit.  With the throngs of people at some of Bedford's restaurants, why aren't there retail customers as well?

I got a bit of a clue about why some stores remain empty when I spoke to a friend of a friend who is opening a coffee shop.  She explained that she'd love to open it on Bedford or Main, but she simply couldn't afford it.  She estimated it would cost $6,000/month to open up shop there.  She told me it was cheaper to open her store in Greenwich or Darien. Really?!?  Clearly the rent is more than the market can bear since so many locations remain unclaimed. Isn't it in the property owners' interest to lower the rent until the spaces are filled?

The good news is that Stamford Downtown has developed a plan. Their 2011 Retail Advancement Program will award up to $50,000 from Stamford Downtown plus a $50,000 landlord contributions - which are paid through tenant improvements and other concessions (what that means, I couldn't say...). Retailers who sign on would have to agree to a 5-year lease.  Only those selling products are eligible.  In other words, no restaurants, no entertainment, no banks, no printers and no copy places. Available retail spots are street level within the Downtown Special Services District.

I'm glad to see that landlords are pulling their weight to help make this community better, and I'm thrilled that Stamford Downtown recognizes that reinvigorating our retail offerings is a worthwhile investment. Maybe all the bloggers (myself included) who have been waxing poetic (aka, complaining) about what we WISH were on Bedford might see a few things fall into place.  A girl can dream...

For information about the 2011 Retail Advancement Program, contact Jacqueline Wetenhall, Director of Retail Development for Stamford Downtown at 203-348-5285 or visit the website.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, where is your friend of a friend opening her coffee shop? Because I want to be her first customer! I would love to see an independent coffee shop in Stamford. And don't talk to me about Sundance...that place is just...well, I won't say.

Anonymous said...

Franklin St Works (the new gallery that just opened up) has a cafe in it, though they're not open Mon-Wed if my memory serves me. Not on Bedford, but just a couple of blocks away! Haven't tried their coffee, but they've got organic tea and tasty snacks.

StamfordNotes said...

Hi Anon and Anon - My friend-o-friend hasn't selected her new location so far, but she's working on it! I went to the Franklin Street opening and it was really cute - definitely worth checking out.