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Bedford Ave. Business Owners Win: Williamsburg Walks Down to One Effin Weekend

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After weeks of pressure from revenue-strapped business owners on Bedford Avenue who saw the Williiamsburg Walks street festival as a burden on profits, the event has officially been rescheduled from six Saturday afternoons to just one lonely weekend at the end of June.

Hope you enjoyed your street party while you had the time, people on feet!

A & G Merch's Jill Goldhand appears to be one of the leaders of the anti-street festival movement, after she last was quoted as saying there were a few Saturdays when she "had no revenue." Today she is quoted in the Brooklyn Paper as saying, “Thank God they’ve cut it." The paper notes she was one "who urged festival organizers to reduce the schedule."

Jumelle Boutique's Madeline Virbasius is also pictured posing, arms crossed, above a caption that reads "she got her wish now that the pedestrian mall has been cut to just two days." (update: this apparently was not her wish. read their statement here.)

I look forward to seeing some numbers of sales during Williamsburg Walks last summer compared with sales during the same weekends, sans walks, this year. Yes, we don't want local businesses losing out completely to the incoming Starbucks & Duane Reeds of the world, but shouldn't they be able to capitalize on an increased pedestrian presence on Saturdays in the summer?

Anyways, event organizers tried to strike a more positive note, saying, "“We are confident that the event will be fantastic and we will establish a sustainable model for the years to come."

Sure, this one weekend will be absolutely fantastic. But this is a big step backwards from six summer Saturdays of fun on Bedford Avenue to one weekend of entertainment on a street filled with business owners looking on, arms-crossed. Emboldened by their victory, will the Business Owners aim their sites on the Endless Summer Taco Truck and the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck too?

UPDATE 4/7: Jumelle's owner responds, saying, the article's quote was "inaccurate, misrepresented and false," and that "We have not actively campaigned to cut Williamsburg Walks." See her full letter here.

photo by Bess Adler c/o The Brooklyn Paper


I wish the article would mention that A&G isn't even on Bedford, that it's 3 blocks away towards the river...
Also, people in cars drive by and are looking for parking. People who are walking are looking for something interesting. Hmmm.
I agree with all those that point out that the economy was in the tank last year and that that should have been taken into account.

Looks like these business owners need to stop playing the blame game. Their actions, if noticed by the community, will surely increase their no-income days. You think killing community brings in business in the long run?? Really?


Couple comments:

1. To Free Williamsburg: any chance of getting word about about when the relevant board meetings take place?

2. Last summer we were in the valley of the recession. Everybody had low/no-income days.

3. Totally agree w/above comments: it's the shop owner's opportunity to take advantage of increased traffic. If they blow that opportunity, if they somehow can't compete with "street vendors," they have only themselves to blame.

4. How about signing a petition or sparking a counter-movement to send the board members/elected officials a message?

I imagine that the rents that the business owners on Bedford Avenue have to pay are astonomical. It so hard to stay in business in NYC - overhead, overhead, overhead so I sympathize with their position. If you want to stroll around in Williamsburg go to McCarren Park - that is what it's there for.
Don't be hating on the business owners - send all your hate to the landlords. Have a nice summer.

I agree. Boycott anti-fun businesses.

i really don't see why people care all that much. you really can't think of anything else to do with your summer weekends?

@Hola, to clarify a lot, the quote about "no revenue" on Saturdays in this article is attributed to A & G Merch not Jumelle.

I'm so sorry that you can't sell your petroleum-based products while people are using the street for walking instead of driving, idling and leaking motor oil.
Your store is kind of better than Urban Outfitters, I guess, not really.
Maybe you can't sell those $125 owl pillows because they're only worth $25 and it has nothing to do with a street festival.

I like Jumelle. I've been shopping there for the past four years. It is unfortunate to hear that they blame their "loss of revenue" on Williamsburg Walks and have decided to hurt the community because they couldn't make their sales goals on a few weekends during one of NY's worst recessions. Maybe they should focus on finding a creative way to increase sales, since their clientele isn't exactly car-focused so I don't see how Williamsburg Walks hurt their business.

I'll be sure to avoid shopping at Jumelle again now that I know that their owner is more interested in playing the blame-game than taking responsibility for her lousy business skills. It isn't like there aren't 16 other stores in Wburg that don't sell EXACTLY the same stuff, anyways. I'm sure Bird will appreciate my business.

What a shame. I can't believe how short sighted this is on the part of the business owners. Opposing something that 1) builds community 2) makes the neighborhood more pleasant and brings people in from other neighborhoods and 3) gets more people out on the streets in front of your stores.

Yeah, sounds like it'd be horrible for business.

I'm banning a&g. I hope they don't sell a single piece of furniture on the cancelled weekends.

Just because these businesses can't capitalize on a good opportunity means it gets taken away? Williamsburg Walks is about the people enjoying the streets. It's the businesses that don't know how to take advantage of it are at fault. Make outside stands like the people who peddle incense and dying plants, offer deals to the increased number of pedestrians. Take advantage of the situation instead of complaining about. The same goes for the businesses that complain about a taco and ice cream truck. It's a TACO and ICE CREAM TRUCK! Get real, if these trucks are hurting your business YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. By all means keep overpricing your home goods, etc. wonder why noone’s buying and then complain about increased pedestrians in the area.... great business model.
P.S. A&G Merch is almost always empty, but I blame the furniture truck 3 blocks away

As a person in business it can say that the bitterness of these select business owners is due to the fact that they aren’t creative enough to capitalize on what should become the busiest day of the week for them. I also try to keep 100% or my money spent in Williamsburg, but I too agree that it is clear who doesn’t want our money. Please boycott the mentioned stores and help us shut them down , it is apparent that they are best suited elsewhere !

i do my damndest to keep as much of my $ in the neighborhood, but i can say i now know which businesses no longer want my $.
Williamsburg walks was about taking back the streets from cars, creating a pedestrian boulevard.
these businesses are siding with car owners over pedestrians so they are not siding with their neighbors, the ones who visit them on a daily basis. short sighted as ever....
and while i very much think the 1st year of this was far better than the 2nd, far too many outside opportunists huckstering crap on the street, with the right approach and enforcement they could have easily been dealt with.
but i guess it is just far easier to not put too much thought into it & piss off your neighbors and do away with it all together.
so sad....

i absolutely agree. I just cannot see how increased foot traffic led to less sales as a direct result of the williamsburg walks campaigns.

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