This article in The Advocate is about the recent struggles of the retailers along Bedford Street. Here are some quotes, followed by my comments in bold.
"Most retailers on Bedford Street are predicting a dismal shopping season to round out a bleak year in sales. While retail sales nationwide experienced a 1.3 percent increase last month, signs of recovery have been few and far between on Bedford, where merchants have for years waited with bated breath for a retail revival."
That revival won't start until those empty storefronts actually have something in them. It's bad visually and it's bad ch'i.
"Part of the disappointment with Bedford stems from its storied reputation. Once known as the Fifth Avenue of Stamford, it was home to a bevy of retailers that stressed quality and service."
You can thank the mall, for the most part, for destroying good old Bedford Street (don't even get me started on what it did to Atlantic Street). Why did this country go mall-crazy in the 80s??
"Quattro Pazzi, an Italian restaurant that used to be on Hope Street and which currently has locations in Norwalk and Fairfield, is set to open on the corner of Bedford Street and Walton Place. Sandella's Flatbread Cafe, a franchise eatery with more than 100 sites across the country, plans to open at 154 Bedford St."
Is Quatro Pazzi still related to Quatro Regali, which recently moved in with Spazzio? And what's at the corner of Bedford and Walton? Isn't that the Congregational Church? Do they mean the old Sabatiello's at the corner of Bedford and Forest?
"'We need a variety, like a good shoe store or a jewelry store, things that bring people down here. There's no interest.'"
How about a cheese shop? A bakery? A coffee shop?
"'The storefronts are older and don't meet the configuration of large retail chains,' said Michael Freimuth, the city's economic development director."
I hate when cities and towns pin their hopes for economic revival on chain stores or SuperMegaJumboMart. Between the mall and Route 1 in Norwalk, we have enough big box stores and chains in the area. In my opinion, Bedford Street should focus on attracting unique, independent retailers. Yeah, the landlords might have to settle for less than they'd get from, say, J. Crew or another freakin' bank, but isn't that preferable to earning ZERO dollars from an empty storefront??
"Toss in traffic and parking issues -- a decades-old complaint among Bedford merchants -- and the result is a format that is 'harder to work with.'"
WALK FIFTY FEET. You'll live. Trust me.
PS: Try to patronize our downtown friends when you can. The more business they generate, the better chance the area will have of attracting new businesses. Like a cheese shop!