Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speaking of our beloved Bedford Street

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!


olly murs said...

I agree with all your comments. The new cafe seems an interesting addition. do you know where it is situated; seems like inbetween Butterfied and the art gallery.

I also noticed that Sabatiello For Rent sign is down so suspect you're right about the location of the new pizza place.

An ice cream shop would be worth considering.

Poems in Search of Pictures said...

*you can't see it but I'm raising a glass to your post*

Kevin McKeever said...

QP is going into the old Sabetello's. It is one of the original QP owners. QR was run by the woman who owns Parkway Diner, Spazzio's and now the Cuban place in the old QP/QR.

Word is the one owner of the majority of empty Bedford shops is holding out for retail as opposed to food to try to broaden the appeal of the street.

Poems in Search of Pictures said...

...and reflecting on other good ideas from Jane and John Doe: said...

I'd love an artisanal bread and cheese shop there; with wide sidewalks and outdoor summer seating already there, it would add a European feel to the street.

Orville said...

i noticed that here was an article in the advocate about the hole in the ground. looks like the city is placing renewed pressure on teh milsteins to come up with a strategy for this parcel.

Streets of Stamford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Streets of Stamford said...

Always Home: Yeah, the Lodato family owns those storefronts and is, in fact, holding out for "high-end" retail, which begs the question: what's wrong with artisanal bread and cheese? Or, as suggested by Notesy's informal survey, a high-end home goods store? How about luring Aghabumi from their out-of-place store on Magee Avenue?

Elizabeth Kim said...

The address for Quattro Pazzi is at 269 Bedford Street, which is at the corner of Forest. Thanks for catching that. The paper will run a correction.

Anonymous said...

The only way to revitalize Bedford St is to involve the younger generation. Who does most of the walking in Stamford? What demographic regular patrols downtown. Its so obvious it hurts.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments and have some more ideas. I walk up/down Bedford every day to the train. What they need is a nice, moderate size grocery, like Trader Joe's (combine 2-3 of those storefronts) or some other moderate retail in addition to a coffee shop/bakery. Even one of those CVS or Walgreen's with the extra groceries would be great. As it is now there is no reason for me to stop on Bedford unless I'm hitting one of the bars on the way home. I'm sure any of these businesses would attract a lot more people.

Streets of Stamford said...

To Anonymous 12/17: How young are you talking? The teenagers who hang around McDonald's aren't going to patronize any high-end stores. If you mean young professionals, then you might be onto something, and it's just a matter of figuring out what they'll buy.

To Anonymous 12/21: I hear you, but is there really enough foot traffic to merit a grab-and-go type place, let alone a full grocer?