Among the amenities offered by the Village Alliance are its discount coupon book, above, and Destination Guide, below. The BID also has a walking tour brochure.
Moving forward with moves for attracting more shoppers
By Honi Klein
No doubt 2009 is shaping up as a very challenging year for all businesses, but especially for the many family-owned small businesses that account for a significant number of both retail and commercial tenants located in the Village Alliance business improvement district.
Our focus moving forward will be to repeat our successful promotions and events that have annually helped to “put more feet on the street,” such as the BID’s free walking tours from May to October that traditionally attract 40 to 50 visitors per tour; our Greenwich Village Discount Book, distributed to more than 35 local venues, reaching residents, students and visitors alike; and the Taste of the Village with Benefit for Washington Square Park, the signature event of the Village Alliance that attracts both neighborhood folks and visitors from around the city.
On a seasonal basis, our summer outdoor information booth has been distributing city maps and cultural and sightseeing information to thousands of visitors and locals. But it is the Village Alliance-produced brochures — the self-guided Greenwich Village Historic Walk of Fame and the recently updated Destination Guide, featuring more than 400 businesses in the Village Alliance district — that remain the two most widely distributed brochures for shopping and enjoying one of the oldest historic districts in New York City. Both guides may be picked up at our office located at 8 E. Eighth St.
Facing a year when it will take more to attract viable new businesses and to lure more customers to shop in the neighborhood, the Village Alliance is launching several new campaigns in which the promotions are designed to herald the assets of both our historic past in music, art and theater, and the renewed energy of the current day. These events will start rolling out in the late spring and will be complemented with a series of in-store promotions.
To combat the uncertain economic climate ahead, the Village Alliance recently updated and upgraded its means of communicating with thousands of potential shoppers within the BID, including, but not limited to, residents and other New Yorkers in our primary trading area. Our new e-blast newsletter has already made a difference by introducing our readers to new area shops, new Village Alliance publications and to money-saving deals.
Another aspect of the campaign to “put more feet on the street” has both short- and long-term implications for improving the pedestrian experience in and around the Village. These new initiatives include a street picnic where local neighborhood families and visitors can simply enjoy a day outdoors with no vendors or cars in sight.
Long term, we are working with the Department of Transportation to establish a year-round pedestrian plaza where all manner of amenities, such as a small cafe, sculpture garden, plantings and passive activities, may be enjoyed. Again, a side effect of these enhancements will be to drive more pedestrians and potential consumers into the district, where there are many shopping, cultural, historic sites and restaurants to savor.
In addition to the above marketing stimulus package, the Village Alliance will be hosting a Web site-marketing meeting in April for business owners that will include everything from building a Web site to how to market your products on it; in other words, how to increase the bottom line by going online. This will follow a Small Business Assistance Forum that we are participating in as a sponsor at the end of March.
If you have a particular issue that you would like the Village Alliance to review, please let us know about it. And if you would like to receive our e-blasts, please send your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Village Alliance business improvement district manages 44 blocks on Eighth St. from Sixth Ave. to Second Ave. and St. Mark’s Place, along with University Place and Astor Place. The BID provides supplemental sanitation and security services, capital initiatives, streetscape improvements and economic development to enhance the quality of life for all those living, working, studying and visiting in the district.
Klein is executive director, Village Alliance business improvement district