Maspeth small biz struggling
by Chris Brito
Jul 28, 2009 | 2457 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Jackie Moreno in front of Jackie’s Florist on Grand Avenue in Maspeth.
At first glance Maspeth’s Grand Avenue remains as busy as ever. Car and pedestrian traffic is high; during the school year the neighborhood’s central thoroughfare is flooded with children just let out of school.

Yet while there is no shortage of activity, small business owners say shopping in the area has decreased significantly, as residents tighten their budgets to get through the recession.

A survey of Maspeth entrepreneurs found that most are struggling as never before. If they once dreamed of owning small businesses, many are seeing those dreams engulfed by the worst economic downturn in a generation.

This unforeseen turn of events has small business owners worried, and in some cases changing their business models to better suit the times.

Some owners have found themselves cutting the prices of products in order to attract costumers increasingly reluctant to spend money.

A solid strategy on its head, slashing prices doesn’t always do the trick. Even with the reduced prices, shopping patterns suggest that customers are heading towards a different path, one that saves money.

“We’ve had to put up more specials, yet the customer flow has been slow,” said Carmela, of Palermo Italian Bakery and Pastries. Carmela, who only gave her first name, said the recession is testing neighborhood bakeries that have traditionally enjoyed a healthy influx of customers.

Business is also down at stores selling higher-end goods.

Many people who look upon high-tech gadgets as luxury items, not necessary purchases, can no longer justifying spending money on a pricy laptop or new Ipod.

An employee at Computer Service Center, who identified himself as Aaron, said business at the store has gone down in the past year. “The customers change their demand,” he said. “They don’t buy much more expensive stuff.”

Shoppers are even redefining for themselves what constitutes a necessary purchase, and what doesn’t, said Jackie Moreno, of Jackie’s Florist.

“Business is off,” Moreno said. “We’re florists and flowers are not a necessity, so people cut back. We’ve seen it at parties [where] brides are now doing their own center pieces”.

And while times are bad now, a majority of the small business owners interview for this article said they see no signs things will improve anytime soon.

As one storeowner put it flatly, “It’s not a recession, it’s a depression,”

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