Volume 21, Number 42 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 29 - March 6, 2009

Tribeca-loving shops look to boost business

Carol Adams saw sales at Babylicious, her Hudson St. boutique, plummet early this year to less than half what they were in January 2008.

“January was just dreadful,” she said last week. “I’m hoping January was the worst of it, but [the economy] has really had a significant impact on local businesses.”

Faced with dropping revenues, Adams and the owners of four other small businesses in Tribeca are banding together to boost their sales. This week, they launched We Heart Tribeca, a discount program that doubles as a reminder that local shops can only survive if they have local support.

“People think nothing can happen in Tribeca,” said Anh Steininger, co-founder of miniMasters, an early childhood center on Reade St. “Living here, we do get a sense of security, but businesses are closing.”

Adams said when she moved to Tribeca 10 years ago, she had to leave the neighborhood to go shopping. Now, thanks to those who remained and invested Downtown after 9/11, almost anything Adams needs is just a short walk away — something more recent Tribeca transplants may take for granted.

“To keep the amenities we worked so hard to develop, we have to have support,” Adams said.

In addition to Babylicious (212-406-7440) and miniMasters (212-374-1747), the other We Heart Tribeca businesses are Tribbles Home & Garden (212-965-8480‎), Real Pilates (212-625-0777‎) and Blue Bench (212-267-1500). A significant purchase at any of the five businesses gives shoppers discounts at the other four.

For example, anyone who signs up for a series of classes at Real Pilates will get a free trial group class at miniMasters and 15 percent-off coupons for Babylicious, Tribbles and Blue Bench. Or, someone could spend $100 at Babylicious — the equivalent of three to four toys or one children’s outfit — and get the offers from all the other businesses, including a free group class at Real Pilates.

“I’m not asking people to spend money they don’t have,” Adams said. “But to the extent that they are shopping, it’s nice to support local businesses.”

Alycea Ungaro, who opened Real Pilates in 1995, said it was a wake-up call to see other small businesses closing their doors, and she wants to pass that call to action on to the community. Her business is down about 20 percent, but she is adjusting by offering more group classes, a less expensive alternative to personal training. She also recently bought less expensive workout clothing to stock her retail shop.

Many of the We Heart Tribeca business owners are longtime residents who are raising their children in the neighborhood.

“It’s not just about paying our rent,” Ungaro said. “We live here and we want to keep the community strong.”

— Julie Shapiro







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