It’s true. Retail’s impact on the Big Apple is historic and distinct. Retailers have a special place in their hearts for the city that never sleeps, so it’s only fitting that the retail industry’s biggest event, Retail’s BIG Show, would take place yearly in America’s favorite big city.
Regardless of whether you’re a 30-year veteran of the show or a first-timer, the wonderful thing about our hosting city is there’s always something new for everyone. In anticipation of our travel to New York City, we reached out to George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company, to share his views on retail’s impact on the city and resources for attendees to plan the perfect trip to the Big Apple.
NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York. Mayor Bloomberg appointed me as CEO in 2006 when three previous entities were merged to form our new organization: the previous NYC & Company, NYC Marketing and NYC Big Events. NYC & Company is considered to be the leading municipal marketing, tourism and partnership organization in the world.
Shopping is a core part of the dynamic image of New York City. What would a New York City without retail look like?
Put simply, without shopping, New York City just wouldn’t be the same place. Shopping in New York is world-renowned—people come from everywhere to shop here and find something they can’t find anywhere else. It’s really the whole shopping experience that is so memorable.
New York City has established itself as the fashion capital of the United States. How did fashion and New York City become so closely intertwined over time?
New York City has always been a capital of commerce and creativity. It’s also a magnet for talent. People who come here are inspired by the City itself, which serves as a living laboratory of fashion. What is imagined and created here today will be worn tomorrow.
Lots of people visit New York for the shopping, and for many retailers the city is home to their flagship stores. Tell us about the role retail plays in the local New York City economy?
Retail is a driving force in New York City’s economy—it’s an industry that supports more than 298,000 jobs, representing close to $10 billion in wages.
20 percent of all our convention attendees shop, and they have an endless selection of shopping options right here in the five boroughs– from our flagship department stores to our unique boutiques.
We noticed you help market Fashion’s Night Out, a night in September dedicated to special retail promotions and in-store experiences. Who initially came up with this idea? With the event only having a two-year history, what do you think made it catch on so quickly throughout the U.S.?
The event, held to boost the City’s retail & fashion industries, was celebratory and inclusive while most fashion events, such as Fashion Week, tend to exclude the common citizen. The evening was backed by dozens of notable brands, designers, models and celebrities, and crafted to be fun, ultimately helping to restore consumer confidence during an economic lull.
Foot traffic in the New York City stores participating in Fashion’s Night Out 2010 increased roughly 48% from 2009, according to ShopperTrak, a research and consulting firm. According to an NYC & Company survey on FNO 2010, approximately 70% of respondents bought something and 71% visited a store they had never been to before.
The Garment District in New York City is less than one square mile in area and is home to several big-name fashion showrooms. In recent years, the district has become smaller in size. Where are the bigger stores relocating to? Where in New York City can shoppers find small, up-and-coming boutiques and labels?
New York City continually evolves—there are new shops and boutiques sprouting up throughout the City. For good boutique shopping, check out places like the Lower East Side, the West Village, Williamsburg, and the Meatpacking District. Our website also has some great content – just type in the search word “shopping”.
What is it about New York City that keeps travelers coming and spending, despite these tough economic times?
New York City is an inspirational destination – when people come to New York City, the experience transforms them and leaves them with a long-lasting positive impression. The energy, excitement, vibrancy and optimism of the City are universal draws. The City prides itself on its diversity – there’s something here for everyone who visits. We sometimes refer to the City as the “World’s Second Home.”
Can you let us in on any local hot-spots, where visitors can experience the New York City that locals know and love?
I encourage you to experience all we have to offer in Midtown, but also to sample a different neighborhood of the City – go to the West Village for instance – it’s a beautiful and intimate tree-lined neighborhood with great shops, restaurants and beautiful brownstones. Travel to SoHo or the Meatpacking District for excellent shopping. Try out Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to experience the City’s original “Little Italy.” For excellent Greek food, travel to Astoria in Queens. Williamsburg in Brooklyn is for those looking for a hip and trendy experience – ride the L train subway and get off at Bedford Avenue. To take in the City’s views free of charge, take a ride on the free Staten Island Ferry. You’ll pass by the Statue of Liberty and see the Lower Manhattan skyline from a unique vantage point.
Are there any special events attendees can expect to find happening in the city in mid-January?
We encourage you to check out the official tourism website for the latest events and information. Our annual events are listed at www.nycgo.com/annualevents.
New York is famous for its wide variety of cuisines. What should we absolutely not miss when it comes to eating in the city?
New York City is famous for its food—the diversity of our cuisines and our restaurants is unmatched. I recommend sampling some of our delicious street food – it’s inexpensive and easy to find, especially in midtown. I also recommend trying a popular pizza joint – here’s a list of the top 10.
Finish this sentence, when I’m not working and have a night-off to enjoy the city I like to….
I enjoy walking different neighborhoods of the City with my wife – and popping into restaurants we never heard of. New York City really offers endless possibilities.