The New Coney Island - Brooklyn's Times Square by the Sea

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

For Retailers, Brooklyn Trumps Manhattan

Commercial Observer excerpts - 

National and international retailers until recently may have been commitment-phobes when it came to opening stores in Brooklyn, but that fear has been nearly quelled as mainstream chains like Whole Foods, J.Crew and H&M establish presences in the borough. And now that the big boys of retail are joining creative entrepreneurs, international and national brands have grown increasingly comfortable bypassing Manhattan and breaking into the New York City market via Brooklyn, especially Williamsburg.

Take the London-based record store Rough Trade, which since November has sold albums, served food and drinks and hosted concerts and exhibitions to crowds at Rough Trade NYC, at 64 North Ninth Street in Williamsburg. And then there’s European luxury kitchen goods company Cucina & Tavola, which recently opened its first New York City store at Williamsburg’s 235 Grand Street. In addition, Urban Outfitters’ concept store, Space Ninety 8, debuted in April at 98 North Sixth Street in the same neighborhood.

These retailers have come to realize what developers and residents have long known: Brooklyn has come into its own. And there are myriad reasons why. It’s easier to gain a foothold in Brooklyn compared to Manhattan thanks to more large spaces and—for now—relatively cheap rents. Kings Country landlords are generally more willing to take risks on untested tenants. And the customer base is more forgiving toward players in a less-crowded field.

“Brooklyn’s become a brand,” Mr. Ashen said.

The borough is sure to see continued growth. That said, the amount of available space, especially in choice corridors, is starting to dwindle.

“I think the national and international retailers will all end up with a Brooklyn presence, some will be before Manhattan, and some after,” Mr. Travis said. “In 10 years, every national retailer will be in Brooklyn.”

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