Archive for August 20, 2010


August 20, 2010 2 comments

By Parker

During a quick stop at Twin Value on Thursday night, I watched as the new weekly special posters were hung in the windows.

Now, despite the fact that everyone eats, most supermarkets work on slim profit margins. So, when I saw one poster offering seniors a 50% discount on Wednesday’s, I was certain it was a typographical error.

Last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about the underground economy a 50% senior citizen discount might create.  Would non-seniors offer their elderly neighbors money to shop for them on Wednesdays, like the teenager outside a 7-11 offering money to strangers to buy them beer?  Would the white-haired ladies sitting on the benches outside Portofino yell, “hey, sonny, give me 20 and I’ll save you 50” to potential clients?  A 50% senior discount would shift the Forest Hills power structure.  Your kind elderly neighbor would have a much easier time convincing you to, “sit and have another cup of tea while we look at these pictures of my grandchildren”, when she’s threatening to withhold that sweet, steep senior discount.

This morning, camera in hand, I was ready to take a picture of the poster that would surely bring chaos to Forest Hills on Wednesdays.  Unfortunately, someone noticed the mistake and hastily reduced the discount by 45% – talk about a quick downturn in the local economy!

At least the cantaloupes are still on sale.

Empty Stores? Just You Wait… and Wait

August 20, 2010 1 comment

There’s a good article on about all the store vacancies on shopping strips like Austin. Basically, the article brings out that we will most likely be waiting a long time for those empty store fronts to fill up.

As Congressman Anthony Weiner tells the business owners about the landlords: “They think four lean years are better than getting into a rent they’ll regret in five years.”

There’s logic in that, but only if you believe that this Recession is nothing more than a typical one, like the cyclical one’s we have experienced in the past. The other point of view on that, of course, is that it isn’t: that we have just experienced a fundamental shift in our economy and must all now adjust to a different world. In other words, we may not be emerging from the “lean years,” as Weiner put it, for a long time. And these “lean years” might be the new normal.

I tend to agree with this latter, rather pessimistic view, for a variety of reasons which I won’t get into here. (If you are really interested email me or tell me below and I will go into it.) So, what I take away from the article is that these landlords are most likely deluding themselves. They will be waiting a long, long time before they get the rents they seem to think they can from these Austin St. stores. Times have changed, and we all must adjust.

At the same time, I think new businesses will still be coming into Forest Hills and the very desirable Austin St. We see new places opening all around us: NY Falafel Bar, the new Mediterranean Seafood restaurant where Piu Bello used to be, just to name a few. But few of the empty storefronts will be filled unless rents come down.

This is a big part of the reason why I support landmarking the Tennis Stadium and then finding new uses for it such as new tennis tournaments, concerts, a museum, etc. Anything that will take advantage of a well-known landmark in New York City and draw tourists here after their stops at Flushing and Jackson Heights. A visit to the Stadium followed by lunch or dinner or some shopping on Austin St. — what’s not to like about that?

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