Greenwich Avenue landlord gets creative with marketing vacant shop
“For lease” signs litter Greenwich Avenue, which has around 20 empty shops. On parts of the avenue, new businesses would have their pick of available storefronts.
That’s why one landlord with vacant space decided to get creative with marketing.
A giant stuffed bear measuring around 5 feet tall and several feet wide fills an empty store window at 107 Greenwich Ave. The oversized teddy bear cradles a cardboard placard saying: “Lease this space and take me home” with a phone number underneath.
Local real estate agent Ron Brien of Alliance Commercial Property is representing the landlord, who came up with the idea. “It’s different and eye-catching — kind of humorous,” he said. “People love it. So many have stopped to look at it.”
The vacant storefront most recently housed national retailer Janie and Jack, whose parent company Gymboree announced a spate of closures in a bankruptcy filing last year.
It’s since emerged from bankruptcy and renamed itself Gymboree Group Inc. Just a few months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the brand reported its new name and plan for restructuring, which included “right-sizing its store footprint” by shuttering hundreds of stores.
Gymboree is one of many retailers slashing costs and stores, which has left malls and retail areas, such as Greenwich Avenue, looking hollow.
“It’s a tenants’ market, and they’re using all the vacancies to negotiate the best deal,” Brien said. “A lot have a ‘take it or leave it attitude’ because they say they’ll just find another space.”
Since 2015, when there was a peak in average Greenwich Avenue rents at $101 per square foot, prices have moved downward. In January, the price per square foot had dropped to nearly $82, according to data provided by Newmark Knight Frank.
“We’re in harder times now for renting retail space,” Brien said.
But landlords are unlikely to drop rent prices dramatically just to fill space, he added. “The Greenwich mentality isn’t that landlords will give away spaces,” he said. “The deals might not come as easily as maybe (tenants) think.”
For $80 per square foot, would-be tenants could snag 107 Greenwich Ave., plus a stuffed bear.
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