Holiday Market is big business for city as well as organizer and 150 vendors

The Union Square Holiday Market, now in its 19th year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The Union Square Holiday Market, now in its 19th year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For small businesses looking to boost foot traffic during holiday season, there is arguably no better location than a holiday market, specifically, the 150-plus booth one that takes place at Union Square Park each year.

The market has grown over the 19 years it’s been run there by the company Urban Space, occupying the south end of the park, and a stroll through on any day it’s open clearly shows there’s always a steady stream of shoppers.

Urban Space has kept a tight lid on what it charges vendors for use of its red and white striped booths, but on a recent day, an operator of a medium-sized booth said his rent was about $15,000. This is for the five weeks, November 21 to Christmas Eve, that the event runs. Not that he was complaining. “It’s the busiest hub in the city,” he said. He, like the majority of merchants there, are repeat tenants, and those thinking of becoming one might want to sign up soon. A rep for Urban Space, Rachel Van Dolsen, said that the “footprint” of the event has gotten as big as it’s going to get.

Van Dolsen declined to discuss rents for booths although she said the aforementioned figure didn’t sound accurate. (Another vendor at last year’s event, however, told T&V that amount sounded similar to what she paid, though hers was a little higher. “Expensive, but worth it,” she said.)

Along with its location on top of an entrance to the Union Square subway, the market has become a hit with shoppers looking for items that are handmade or hard to find as opposed to mass-produced items, which Urban Space doesn’t allow.

Last year the amount of money the company shelled out to the city in exchange for use of the park was $1,378,972, so even without official numbers, it’s clear the bustling bazaar must do pretty well for the organizer. The city of course makes out too, with its cut going to a general fund.

The Union Square Holiday Market (Photo courtesy of Urban Space)

The Union Square Holiday Market (Photo courtesy of Urban Space)

Of course, being that the event runs throughout one of the year’s coldest months, even with the built-in foot traffic, there are still going to be retailers who don’t want to conduct business outdoors as well as businesses that wouldn’t be able to sell effectively in one of the stalls.

As Faith Hope Consolo, a broker for the real estate firm Douglas Elliman, explained it, “The holiday market is for a very specific customer, and if that retailer sells products for that shopper, sure, it makes sense to go there. These can include holiday decorations, ornaments, one-of-a-kind gifts. But a pop-up probably makes more sense for apparel. You might want to try on something, and an outdoor market is not the place for that.” Electronics are also not a big seller at markets, noted Consolo, though accessories are.

At this time, asking rents for retail spaces around Union Square are around $60 per square foot to $90 per square foot on the side streets, while asking rents on the avenues are a whopping $400 per square foot. The rent gets higher closer to Flatiron, added Consolo. And of course, these are the prices for longterm leases, not pop-up shop spaces, which around holiday time, are hard to come by.

“There are fewer pop-up opportunities at the holidays because many retailers will lease a holiday shop well in advance,” said Consolo. “But someone can always find something if they look long and hard enough.”

Ultimately, as for whether it makes more sense to rent at the market or at a store, “Holiday markets have the same rule of thumb as any retail site,” said Consolo. “Better locations have higher rents. You pay more to be near entrances, etc. And Union Square certainly is bustling as more retailers, restaurants and services open to appeal to all the high-tech workers and residents there.”

In related neighborhood retail news, to help push shopping at neighborhood stores as the market is open, the Union Square Partnership has been offering District Deals booklets at the information booth at the market (across from the subway entrance gazebo). The booklets contain over 40 deals from retailers like Union Square Wines and Spirits and Jivamukti’s yoga school.

Advertisements

Letters to the Editor, The Soapbox, Cartoon, December 26

When the Police Academy was a school

Re: “Push for new school at Police Academy,” T&V, Dec. 12

Guess what, previous to Police Academy that spot on 20th Street was PS 50. Half (eastern part) was the red-bricked school, the western part an outdoor playground.

How do I know? I attended the school in the early ‘50s. Yes, my kindergarten teacher was Miss Hatch, first grade Miss Richter, second grade Miss Schaefer. And I still have my report cards to prove it! Then the school closed and all the kids were transferred to PS 40, where I continued on till JHS 104. Also, I think PS 50 ran through the block and the 13th Precinct also once was the school. The original 13th Precinct was on 22nd Street near First Avenue, in a station house up a few steps. I was a member of the PAL there, cop “Bob” was our mentor. Fond memories

Sidney Schneck, ST

 
 

What do the bondholders say?

 To the Editor:

In October 2012, the Tenants Association announced, with great fanfare and press releases, that it was taking our case “directly to the bondholders” – and “cutting out the middleman” – in order that we could gain control of our destiny.

Now, the time has come for the TA to report to us – fully and honestly – how the bondholders responded, when the TA put our case directly to them. Or, the TA leadership should observe fair and reasonable term limits of two years each, and step aside.

Yours sincerely,

Name Withheld, ST

 

The dangers of smoking

Dear T&V,

Michael Phillips’ review of the movie “Parkland” was as hilarious as anything I’ve ever read in your newspaper. Also his explanation that one of the reasons the film received an MPAA rating of PG-13, because people were “smoking throughout” the film shows how silly our culture has become.

Smokin’.

Richard Luksin, Minneapolis, MN

 

The Soapbox: Why Steve Jobs died

By David Chowes

Well, you think that the answer is cancer – and you’re right. Steve Jobs was perhaps the first true genius of the 21st century – but he was a complicated man. During his counterculture days, he was steeped in mystical thinking: took LSD, was heavily into Indian religious paradigms…

Of course, later he made a lasting contribution in technology and became another Einstein in another area and revolutionized the world. But, his earlier foray persisted. When was diagnosed with cancer, standard medical procedures gave him about a 95 percent probability of remission. But…

He chose alternative treatments instead and this decision most likely caused him his life. That Jobs chose the course he did is curious, because to create the technology he did, he must have been aware of the scientific method.

What is “alternative medicine” which seems so popular among the pseudo-sophisticates? It consists of methods which have not been ever been tested via methodologically sound procedures. They may have efficacy or not or be dangerous. “Natural” is no assurance of safety – remember that arsenic is natural.

Once I went to a woman’s home and saw many small bottles with strange names. I picked up one and asked her what this product does. She replied, “Oh, I don’t know. My friend who is very smart said it’s good.” I further queried, “For what?” She repeated, “My friend is very smart.”

Both had been graduated from college and had taken science courses. But, scientific courses, in the main, teach facts rather than what the scientific method is about – and, how important it is. From janitor to CEO, few realize how crucial this method is.

Alternative medications can be or seem to be effective. But they have not been studied and no one knows. If one person takes a nutrient or other tablet and a headache goes away, they may believe that there was a cause and effect relationship between the treatment and the headache going away. And, they tell friends that this “wonder pill” works. It then goes viral… but most maladies eventually go away without intervention; or, it could be a result of the placebo effect. That is why FDA approval assures (to some extent) that treatments are safe and effective.

Then there are the radio and TV hucksters who make a fortune using a naïve public. Well, the brilliant Steve Jobs succumbed to the myth of alternative treatments. According to Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs, near the end, Jobs realized the great mistake he made that most likely cost him his life.

How many people in PCV/ST are using snake oil treatments rather than physician-prescribed ones and put ting their lives in peril?

Peter Cooper Village resident David Chowes taught psychology, statistics and research design at Baruch College/CUNY and other universities for 25 years.

 
 Dec26 Toon NSA
 
 

THANK YOU: Generous T&V readers donate toys for the holidays

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, with some of the toys at her Second Avenue office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, with some of the toys at her Second Avenue office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At Town & Village, holding a toy drive around the holidays to raise money for kids undergoing treatment at a local hospital is a tradition that’s spanned decades.

This year, thanks to the generosity of our readers, nearly 100 toys were collected to benefit Beth Israel Medical Center. The toys will be distributed to kids spending their Christmas at the pediatric department as well as to families who whose members are patients of the hospital’s outpatient clinics, who in many cases, could not afford gifts for their children.

Among the haul were gifts suitable for kids of all ages from babies to tweens, including dolls, action figures, games, books and a few gadgets.

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, said the toys were especially needed this year.

Following Sandy, she noted, more families have been utilizing the hospital’s clinics. This has been in an addition to an uptick in families since the recession began.

“People have had to focus on their basic needs,” said Robbins, “so it’s especially necessary for us to be able to provide something. No parent wants to feel like they can’t give their kid something to celebrate the holidays and we help parents who would have a tough time doing that.”

Robbins as well as the staff at Town & Village would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those who donated as well as those who offered space as toy dropoff points. This year’s dropoff points were the Waterside Plaza management office, the Waterside Swim & Health Club, M&T Bank on First Avenue, Paddy Maguire’s Ale House and the Stuyvesant Town Community Center.