Posted on 17 February 2012.
Posted on 19 February 2011.
Spring Fashion Week ended yesterday. It was its second run at Lincoln Center. Here’s a look at whether the influx of fashionistas helped local small businesses.
It’s a little after eleven on a Wednesday morning, and Sushi A Go-Go on Broadway near 63rd Street, doesn’t open until 11:30. But it’s not an average Wednesday – it’s the middle of Fashion Week at Lincoln Center – and people dressed in sleek black coats and designer eyeglasses keep trying to come in and order.
Carissa is a manager at Sushi A Go-Go. She didn’t want to give her last name. She tells the impatient diners to come back and try the special Fashion Week only prix fixe menu.
“When they wear the little Mercedes Benz badges, we show them our lunch specials, our menus, and I think fashion week has just almost tripled our business,” said Carissa.
The city estimates that about 230,000 people attend the biannual event and spend about $770 million. Monica Blum is president of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District. She doesn’t have numbers for how much visitors spend at small businesses, but…
“It’s not bad for business, let’s put it that way,” Blum said.
She says that as she visited restaurants around Lincoln Center this week, they seemed packed…at least during lunch. But that might not be enough. After September’s Fashion Week, many restaurants complained that lunch rushes did not lead to dinner rushes. Blum says they learned that most people at fashion shows are there for work, not play, so when they’re done, they go home.
Carissa says things are better this time around.
“Dinner rush around, in this area, starts at about six o’clock, maybe even at six-thirty, but now we’ve had to tell people to come earlier, as early as even five o’clock or five-thirty if they wanted to get like a better choice table,” said Carissa.
Restaurants are one thing, but other stores s ay they haven’t seen much of a bump in business. Oscar Garcia is the wine buyer at 67 Wine on Columbus near 67th Street. He says he doesn’t think Fashion Week patrons are interested in anything very farm from the catwalk.
“It seems to be pretty enclosed within the premises of Lincoln Center. I don’t think they wander around in the neighborhood,” said Garcia.
Blum, of the business improvement district, says Garcia is mostly right. She’s racked her brain trying to think of ways to bring Fashion Week visitors to businesses other than restaurants.
Said Kasami runs a coffee cart at the corner of Columbus and 65th street, right across from Lincoln Center. He didn’t even know it was Fashion Week, although he did notice some different faces.
“I see new people only for a couple days or one week, that’s it,” said Kasami. “After that, they gone.”
But businesses here are generally doing fine, and for most, Fashion Week is just a bonus. Blum is convinced that all the visitors this week had some kind of impact.
“The streets were mobbed during Fashion Week and I just can’t believe that some of those people didn’t go into the shops,” said Blum.