Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oops! There Goes Another Greenwich Ave Store

No one is singing "High Hopes" on Greenwich Avenue these days. Just the opposite, in fact. The general mood ranges from lowered expectations to downright despair. Frequently, the thumb-twiddling staff persons outnumber the ever-sparser customers. Not a way for a business to make money, one would think.

Today's Oops! is Petit Patapon, a quondam purveyor of overpriced baby clothes with a European accent, which has suddenly papered over its windows and left Town in the dead of night. Your scribe went up to see if there was a Court Order taped to the door, like that of PP's quondam quondam rival a few storefronts south, Best & Co.; but no, dear reader, this one seems to be a voluntary closing. Well, as "voluntary" as shutting down a losing operation ever is.

Greenwich Avenue is looking more and more like an aging prizefighter, with ever-increasing gaps between the teeth. The local population stopped shopping there years ago, concomitant with the "mallification" of the Avenue, and the parvenues from out of state or up the line seem to be pulling in their horns these days. Huge swaths of empty parking places festoon the street on this Saturday morning, usually one of the busiest shopping times of the week. You could put a fleet of stretch limos from end to end along whole blocks today. That is, if you can find anyone who still has a fleet of stretch limos willing to lend them for the purpose.

If this epidemic of store closings continues, it won't be long until the number of empty storefronts on Greenwich Avenue surpasses those of the still ostensibly operating ones. And if you were somehow able to sneak a peek at the ledgers and separate the stores making money from the ones hemorrhaging it on a daily basis, the picture would be bleak indeed. No wonder the Chamber of Commerce plans to put on a comedy/variety show as a fundraiser this fall. It reminds your scribe of Nero's rumored fiddling while Rome burned. Well, the local C of C has always been good for a laugh or two, and one supposes that they are merely trying to trade on their steadily-diminishing assets as their membership continues to decline precipitously. They've already laid off most of their staff, but somehow the ineffable Mary Ann Morrison continues to wander around Town, busily trying to look busy while doing absolutely nothing of consequence visible to the naked eye.

Eventually, things will turn around. They always do. But for the moment, the momentum is downward, and shows no signs of easing. Stay tuned for news of the next casualty!


Blogger RTM Member said...

I have always wondered if any of the large “chain” stores were ever members of the Chamber of Commerce. I had heard tell that any could not or would not join a local Chamber, as it wasn't allowed in their “corporate” policy.

But be assured that one non-locally owned business will remain operational ... as long as the Board of Education is housed in the Havemeyer Building, the Starbucks on Greenwich Avenue will have an unending stream of customers.

August 30, 2009 5:10 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

I think a fair number of the chains joined the C of C at one time or another - maybe corporate policies differ on the matter.

Surely you're not suggesting that the Board of Ed employees are more likely to be found in Starbucks than at their desks?

August 31, 2009 9:40 AM  
Blogger Leigh Russell said...

And behind all those empty shop fronts are a host of unemployed shop assistants - it's all very depressing, isn't it? Let's hope things pick up soon.
On a more cheerful note, how's the book going, Bill?

August 31, 2009 8:04 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Probably not as well as yours, Leigh. You've been traversing the British Isles from John o'Groat's to land's End, while I've been sitting here and blogging in lil' ol' Greenwich.

Have you read my book yet?? I've got yours, but am waiting to review it until I know you've got mine. Fair enough?

September 01, 2009 12:49 PM  

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