Home > Austin St., food, retail > Retail Theory

Retail Theory

I’ve had this theory for the past several years that you can tell when a neighborhood is improving by the appearance of very specific types of retailers or restaurants. I came up with the theory during the time I spent living in Park Slope and watching that neighborhood change. Let me explain.

The first thing was the appearance of Thai restaurants, believe it or not. Thai food places were among the first places to open in Park Slope when it began to gentrify. Here in Forest Hills we have certainly seen those open over the past few years, along with other upscale Asian fusion restaurants.

The other kind of retailer that began to move heavily into Park Slope were organic markets. And lo and behold, we have begun to see them begin to multiply here in Forest Hills as well.

And that leads me to the real reason for this post: the opening of another organic food place, Greenline Organic, this time on Austin St. between 72nd Ave. and 72nd Road.

  1. Susan
    October 5, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    This is happy news. Curious to see if this will be another organic grocery or more of a take-out establishment. Either way, a nice addition to the neighborhood.

    • Anonymous
      October 5, 2010 at 7:55 PM


      When I’ve seen the door open I can see shelves along the wall. Also, a Google search pulled up a store with the same name in Astoria. This is going to be a market that competes with Natural and the organic store near the Windsor

  2. yellowstone
    October 5, 2010 at 10:08 PM
  3. Apikoros
    October 6, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    I agree with your theory 100%, Drake. Wifey and I lived in Boureum Hill in Brooklyn, from 1997-2001. In that time, the area went from being, shall we say, a S**T hole to being one of the hottest areas in all of Brooklyn, if not NYC. It all began, with, believe it or not, a Blockbuster. Then a Rite-Aid opened up… 3 years later the whole area had gentrified, it was one of the quickest and most amazing things I ever saw…

  4. Susan
    October 6, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    Great info all … and very exciting. Looks like the Astoria location is produce centric, which is needed in this neighborhood.

    • October 6, 2010 at 11:35 AM

      But don’t we have Natural for produce? Couldn’t we use more healthy, tasty prepared foods? Being rather time-constrained, what I would give to have a place where I can quickly pick up a great pre-prepared salad or sandwich, or even hot dishes. I was hoping EuroPan would provide that but it doesn’t. And Natural is good for everything else, but I’m sorry, their prepared foods don’t look very appetizing. The closest thing is the new Organic Market, but their offerings, while excellent in quality, have been rather slim.

  5. Susan
    October 6, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    While I do the bulk of my (organic) produce shopping at The Natural, I often feel that much of the produce is past it’s prime and I welcome some serious competition in this area.

    I don’t disagree that we can use more neighborhood options in regards to prepared foods. On that note, I’ve heard many folks say good things about the prepared foods at the organic store next to the Windsor (on the side street).

  6. October 6, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    That’s been my experience also with their prepared foods, Susan, that is the store I was referring to, Organic Market, next to the Windsor. I see your point. And come to think of it, it’s true what you say. The fruit is ok at Natural, but I never seem to love it. But that even happens at Whole Foods sometimes. Is it just fruit in general here in New York? This is exactly why I was hoping the Farmer’s Market would work here – the only good apples I can remember eating, for instance, were from the Farmer’s Markets.

  7. Susan
    October 6, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Once my Mom moved down to Florida I really came to appreciate the availability of good produce here in NY versus elsewhere. With the exception of oranges I find the fruit and produce down there horrid compared to what we can get at The Natural.

    Overall, I’ve had good experiences at Whole Foods. With that said, I agree that the best option overall would be a local farmers market and I’ve petitioned to get them to try the church parking lot as a location for years (it meets all of the Parks Dept requirements in terms of parking and storage availability – assuming the Church would comply).

    • October 6, 2010 at 2:11 PM

      The Farmer’s Market came up during our live chat on this blog last night. Apparently, at least one local politician is not in favor of moving the Farmer’s Market closer to Austin because of the competition it would give local food retailers. Crazy right? Other neighborhoods somehow get along just fine with both grocery stores and Farmer’s Markets!

  8. Susan
    October 6, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    That’s absolutely ridiculous Drake! What a shame. Sorry I missed last nights live chat … was at Tuscan Hills celebrating their 1 year anniversary. Looking forward to participating in future chats!!!

  9. Kevin
    October 7, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    The addition of this market is great and like you, I hope the community supports it. The last thing Austin Street needs is another hair/nail salon.

    With respect to the local politician’s objection to the Farmer’s Market moving closer to Austin Street; this is just another example of the ignorant people we rely on for representation. In today’s retail world the consumer has many options and with the internet out there, the traditional brick and mortar retailer has to be smart if they expect consumers to come through the door. Competition keeps consumers coming through the door.

    A growing trend in retailing today is for competing businesses to locate next to each other. About two weeks ago I read a story in Crain’s how the Outdoor Sports Retailer Icebreaker is opening their NYC flagship store on Wooster Street in SOHO. Why there? Because not only is Patagonia there, but also in the neighborhood you have Eastern Mountain Sports, Moncler, and Northface. REI is building out its NY flagship store and word has it LL Bean is looking for space there. You don’t need to know all of those brands or retailers; but if you are shopping for technical outdoor gear that neighborhood is where you are going to shop (think diamond district.) If I was opening a restaurant today the first place I would look for space is on 70th Road. Why, because if your hungry that’s where you are going to go.

    Only a fool would not see how a farmer’s market would substantially increase the foot traffic on Austin Street. Likewise, it would hold the other retailers to a higher standard for both quality and service (something the Pol should want for his/her constituents.) Lastly, a Farmer’s Market is not about price, its about quality and choice. Lets face it, a C-Town shopper is not going to shop at a farmer’s market.

    • October 7, 2010 at 7:51 PM

      The other last thing we need is another cell phone store. My God. What are there like a hundred of them on Austin now?
      Speaking of 70th Road (Restaurant Row), Maybe we’ll see space for another restaurant soon where Blockbuster video sits, now that that chain has gone belly up?
      But what you say about retailers clustering together by category makes all the sense in the world. Fifth Avenue is another case of this. For all those high-end retailers it is so expensive to have a store there, but there’s no better advertising! You have an endless stream of visitors from all over the world walking up and down Fifth Ave. shopping those stores.

  10. Kevin
    October 8, 2010 at 10:19 PM

    Back in the mid 90’s I was living in Jersey City. We noticed Barber Shops & Hair Salons were opening up all over; but something seemed odd. Having experienced gentrification in Hoboken in the early 80’s, hair salons are not the early stage service business that are created in a gentrifying neighborhood. Typically its bars, restaurants, dry cleaners & green groceries. Our neighborhood association was concerned, as prime retail space was being left fallow. We started to look into the situation and discovered that a few years earlier they started offering barbering & hair care occupation training in the state prison system.

    I agree with your assessment of the future use of the blockbuster space. Normally, with retail chains that go bankrupt the real estate (both owned & leased) are the only assets of value in the bankruptcy. Fortunately, these being bad times perhaps the lease will be broken an a local entrepreneur can get a crack at the space with a reasonable rent.

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