Great Neck Plaza works on strengthening their downtown activity
With mask mandates lifted and social gatherings back to full capacity, the world is returning to a sense of normalcy. Many businesses struggled, forced to downsize or close. People are eager to shop and dine out despite empty storefronts. The Village of Great Neck Plaza recognizes its residents’ desire and is excited to boost its downtown activity.
The Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Ted Rosen has been working with the village board members on a two-pronged strategy to strengthen the downtown area.
“First, we want to attract new businesses to the plaza. We want retail shops and restaurants to open in our village,” said Mayor Rosen. “Second, we want to ensure the businesses here stay in business.”
Some time ago, the village hired a downtown strategy firm, Downtown Works, to consult with and develop a strategy to increase appeal and business to the plaza. The firm will work with the village’s newly hired downtown advocate.
Mayor Rosen shared that they have just hired a Great Neck Plaza resident to act as the downtown advocate and be trained by a representative from Downtown Works. This advocate will prospect potential retail stores and restaurants in areas such as Brooklyn and Westchester.
“We’re going to be looking for shops that are doing well and have a desire to expand,” said Mayor Rosen.
The village has also retained the services of another consulting firm called Vision Accomplished. The firm’s president, Thomas Savino, is helping the village get involved in the Nassau County Community Development Grant Program.
“We’ve been involved before and used the funds for things like paving streets,” said Mayor Rosen. “But now, with Savino’s help, we are looking to use it to upgrade storefronts. We’ve been advised that to attract a better caliber retail shop, you have to improve the physical stock of the building. We are hoping to offer landlords a program where they agree to upgrade their store’s physical facade with a certain percentage of the money we provide from the grant.”
Design firms have been working with the village to create a design plan with cohesive and unifying themes while allowing room for a unique look to reflect the store’s character.
“We hope to resurrect recruiting efforts with the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce,” said Mayor Rosen. “The idea is to get Great Neck business to approach other businesses outside of Great Neck to discuss the benefits of moving to the plaza.”
With the outreach efforts, consulting firms and general upgrades, the village is hoping to attract more high-quality retail shops and family restaurants.
While attracting new businesses is critical, Mayor Rosen and the village board are passionate about helping businesses already in the plaza area stay in business.
“Nobody wants a store to open up and then go out of business in six or seven months,” said Mayor Rosen. “It’s not good for the business or the community.”
The village works with the Great Neck Business Improvement District (BID) to help strengthen businesses and increase plaza foot traffic.
“The BID does all sorts of promotions during the year. For example, holiday promotions, coupon programs and sidewalk sales,” said Mayor Rosen. “Over the summer, the BID and the village have worked together to put on promenades. The promenades directly support our restaurants. People come out to eat and listen to music.”
This summer initiative is fun for families and brings attention to the downtown restaurants and shops. According to Mayor Rosen, the summer promenades have attracted many people and have been enjoyable for families.
In addition to increasing shoppers in the downtown area through promotional means, the village is helping its merchants become more tech-savvy.
“In June of 2021, we did a program with Hofstra University’s business development center to provide a series of six workshops on marketing,” said Mayor Rosen. “The village paid for this chance to develop a curriculum with Hofstra professors.”
After a few dropouts, only two Great Neck Plaza merchants completed the series in 2021. The village decided to make some changes to the workshop and improve upon the 2021 model to make it more enticing for merchants.
“We cut the workshops from six to four. I think it will be easier to retain people if it isn’t as time-consuming,” said Mayor Rosen. “The real focus is on social media posting in particular.”
Based on the workshop proposal, the first workshop will be an overview of traditional marketing, and the second workshop will be an overview of digital marketing. After the basics, the third workshop will focus on Facebook and Twitter marketing, and the fourth will focus on Instagram and TikTok marketing.
“The business professors, our downtown strategists, and the village board members think digital marketing assistance is the most helpful and important,” said Mayor Rosen. “For retail shops to be successful, they need to take advantage of online social media promotion.”
The mayor hopes to recruit merchants throughout August and September for the Hofstra workshops, and start early October.
“We want to make sure we are doing everything we can so [merchants] can reach customers in not only Great Neck Plaza but also the greater Great Neck area and surrounding areas,” said Mayor Rosen. “Downtown success is a prime objective of mine and my colleagues on the board.”