With more and more small businesses closing, two of our favorite UWS toy stores have teamed up to try to boost sales. Stationery and Toy World, located at 125 West 72nd, and West Side Kids, located at 498 Amsterdam, are close enough to be competitors, but complementary enough to work together. Their new strategy is to get on the phone with each other if a customer can’t find what they are looking for and send business each other’s way.
“We work together to stay alive, because it’s becoming very challenging with the internet,” said Donna Schofeld, owner of Stationery and Toy World. Donna explained that she and Jennifer Bergman, the owner of West Side Kids are long time friends, so there’s no reason for competition. The plan is to send customers back and forth to keep customers local and not online.
With more and more small businesses closing, two of our favorite UWS toy stores have teamed up to try to boost sales. pic.twitter.com/JYSTzDJ2QI
— i Love the UWS (@iLoveTheUWS) December 23, 2019
Small business closings are plaguing the Upper West Side. As we reported recently, there are at least 66 vacant storefronts between 67th and 104th Streets. That vacancy percentage is considered unhealthy for this neighborhood. Reasons behind these high vacancy levels include e-commerce, rising rents and property taxes, and various regulatory hurdles. Local advocacy groups as well as city and state politicians are actively working to address this issue.
It is promising to see two businesses try to tackle this problem head on by working together. Both of these family owned and operated stores are part of what makes the UWS a charming place to live and visit. Creating this unified front will hopefully prove to be enough to keep them in business.
The increased vacancies on 72nd street, including the former Petland Discounts and Ricky’s, is the result of less pedestrian foot traffic between Broadway and Columbus Avenue. This inadvertently harms the existing shops like Stationary and Toy World. Donna explained that her revenue was down 25% going into the month of December, but her rent, payroll and insurance is up. West Side Kids is down 15% in revenue.
The good news? I visited Stationary and Toy World today and the line for checkout was long, with people buying hundreds of dollars worth of items. The woman who checked out in front of me spent well over $200. If you have some last minute holiday shopping to do, please check out these wonderful stores. Also, if you are looking for last minute gift ideas while shopping locally, you can find my suggestions here.