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Crain’s: LES Gets an “F” as a Shopping Destination

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Sunday afternoon on Orchard Street.

The week is beginning with an article sure to get people talking.  Crain’s New York reports: “The Lower East Side is getting an F as a shopping destination.” 

Some excerpts:

When Annie Havlicek was searching out locations for her first store last year, the womenswear designer was immediately drawn to the Lower East Side’s eclectic charm. The area’s relatively inexpensive rents, vintage retail tenants, and heavy nightlife scene persuaded her to open a 350-square-foot shop at 154 Orchard St. But in May, after just one year in business, the Chicago native shuttered her boutique. “There’s just not enough foot traffic in that area,” said Ms. Havlicek. “[Stores] are shifting away from it.”… Businesses complain that landlords, anticipating completed developments, have been jacking up rents, though several construction projects are still stalled with recession-related woes. But above all, retailers say the foot traffic, which skyrockets at night, simply does not exist during the day, prime operating time for retail… The influx of nightlife has only driven up rents, making the area even less appealing for emerging boutiques. In the past 18 months, asking prices in the neighborhood have jumped, increasing 20% following recession-related drops. Now, asking rents on prime streets range from $100 to $150 a square foot, while secondary areas are closer to $65 a square foot, according to brokers. In God We Trust, a seven-year-old apparel and housewares label whose wares are made entirely in New York, was hit with a 25% rent increase—to $150 a square foot—for its 400-square-foot Ludlow Street shop (shuttered in February)… “If I was a landlord, I’d want to fill the block with cool local stores so the foot traffic is cool—we don’t need another NoLIta or SoHo,” said Julie Noyce, In God We Trust’s general manager. “The Lower East Side has always been for artists and rock ‘n’ rollers—if you get rid of that local flavor, then it’s just Steve Madden and a bunch of bars.”

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