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Grassroots Effort Under Way to Keep Business in GC

Merchants Trying to Survive Sluggish Economy

Business is difficult. Not just in Garden City but everywhere. Some experts predict an economic turn around is on the horizon. But right now, what are local merchants doing to keep their heads above water?

They are leaning on each other to survive.

An aggressive marketing plan is under way to get the word out. This plan includes advertising, promotion, website tie-ins, window signs and more.

Garden City’s business district has a lot to offer and many merchants, especially those located on 7th Street, Franklin Avenue and New Hyde Park Road, are doing what they can to keep it that way.

They’ve realized that by joining together they would have a stronger voice for providing Garden City residents and its neighbors with information on the benefits of shopping and dining in Garden City.

A grassroots committee, dubbed The Merchants Group, has been brainstorming for nearly three months to find fresh ways to keep business in what County Executive Tom Suozzi’s named a “cool downtown.”

Merchants Group Chairperson John Wilton of Garden City Properties said the seeds of the committee germinated a year ago. He said that some landlords in town have been somewhat sympathetic toward their tenants’ needs with adjustments in rent. “They’ve now reached frustration points,” Wilton said.

Wilton said that conceptually the idea was to shop locally and think globally but with Roosevelt Field Mall as a major draw and the economy as it is local merchants are facing significant challenges.

“The idea was to start a program to enlist the support of Garden Cityites as well as taking the communities surrounding us as well as taking the participating consumers in the office buildings that use the restaurants and use the services, etc. What we’d like to do is have an ongoing branding concept. What we came up with is ‘Garden City Takes Hospitality Seriously.’ The logic behind that was that when you come into the village you’ll be interfacing with owners, managers. You’ll be dealing directly with the responsible individual who will try to satisfy your needs,” Wilton explained. “There is a need on behalf of the merchants in the village to have all the constituents spend their dollars in the village. I don’t want to put urgency on it but I will tell you that there is a need and it’s a very strong need.”

Wilton believes the local merchants over the years have gone out of their way to contribute to numerous organizations. “They’re asking for a little bit of payback,” he said. “You know that old pay it forward concept is now let’s pay it forward to the merchants. Let’s help maintain the integrity of this village. That’s what we’re striving for.”

Although the Merchants Group is a committee of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, membership in the chamber is not required for participation or listings.

According to www.GardenCityShopping. com, The Merchants Group has established its own identity, designing and implementing a communications program and promotional package that would not be possible for an individual, independent merchant.

Consumers are urged to help keep Garden City’s businesses healthy. In return, local merchants are offering special promotions, coupons, sales specials, the Friends of the Chamber Card and other incentives. As part of this initiative many merchants will make special announcements and extra offerings to residents via email. If you would like to receive these promotions and extra benefits, visit the website and respond via the email option on the site.

All email entries will be included in a random drawing for prizes, including a free weekend night bed and breakfast at The Garden City Hotel, $250 in catering from Garden City Pizza, a $100 coupon from Key Foods, one pizza per week for six months from Garden City Pizza, three months of weekly, 20# wash and fold laundry service from Clean Scene Laundry, $250 in catering from Bagelman, one dozen bagels with cream cheese every Sunday for three months from Bagelman, and $350 art from Sunflower Fine Art and Framing.

The Merchants Group is soliciting $200 ($50 per week, $600 total) per month from each retailer to be part of the program for the full three-month period. Pay in monthly increments or with one $600 payment. Corporate sponsors are needed and welcome.

The Merchants Group last met Oct. 22 at The Garden City Hotel and according to Althea Robinson, the chamber’s executive director, a letter is being mailed to every household in Garden City encouraging residents to keep their dollars here in Garden City.

“We have a lot to offer. We have a lot that other villages don’t have. We have hospitality Garden City style and we want all of them to be familiar with our cool downtown,” Robinson said. “We’re just doing everything we can to get the business back in Garden City and to keep it here in these difficult times.”