Specialty Shops Comparing East Village and Williamsburg Design At the Edge, Spring 2012 Design BriefArisara Srisethnil, Ryan Burgam, Kelsey Conophy, Julieta Larriba
Research QuestionsFor this mapping project our group decided to work with specialty shops, and how are theypositioned around East Village and Williamsburg.The first thing that we needed to do for this project was to answer the question: What is aspecialty shop? We looked into the academic definition for this type of shop; a specialty shopit’s a retail space that offers a specialized type of items of a particular brand or particularproduct.After reading the academic definition, we came out with a different explanation of what aspecialty shop should be. This definition was more appropriate for the type of specialty thatwe where researching, and was more adapted to our particular way of seeing a specialty shop.This is what we agreed on looking when deciding if something was a specialty shop or not: - The shop should be focused on a particular class of products - It should only have one standing location - It shouldn’t have commercial advertising - It should have a limited selection of products (no more than 5)After coming out with this definition, we also decided that, for our project, we would befocusing in only two neighborhoods, East Village and Williamsburg. This two where chosenmainly for two reasons, the first one, that the two neighborhoods are close to where themembers of the group live, and the second one, the fact that this two neighborhoods areconsidered trendy right now, and a lot of young people live on them; the east village is anolder community and Williamsburg is in the process of growing.
Research MethodsUpon determining a definition of what our team considered to be a specialty shop, the nextphase of our project involved an intensive research component. Before stepping out onto thefield, we compiled a survey to give to each of the storeowners/employees that we encountered.Some of the questions were as follows: How long have you been in business? How old is youraverage customer? Why this specific food? Along with the store surveys, the next element ofour research consisted of basic Internet research. By looking over each store’s Twitteraccount, review on yelp, and other various sources we were able to get an unbiased, honestidea as to how customers viewed each of the specialty shops. Following the survey andresearch components of our project, each member of the group was responsible for makingthorough observations of the interior/exterior of the specialty shop as well as the area aroundeach shop. By taking notes and photographs, our team was able to get a sense of the physicaland aesthetic constituents involved with this emerging specialty shop trend.Throughout our research, the team made a point to look into the various competitors that eachof the specialty shops faced. The competition fell within two basic arenas: Drugs stores andgrocery stores. Compared to the one-of-a-kind, intimate ambiance of the specialty shops, theteam noticed a very sterile, impersonal quality of the competition. For example, the grocerystore, Key Foods used self-checkout machines rather than employees to ring up customers.Similarly, the staff at Duane Reade was not concerned with greeting customers or sharinginformation about the products. By juxtaposing major corporate competitors with mom andpop specialty shops we were able to discover how the chosen specialty shops utilizedbranding, product assortment, and store location to battle such powerful companies.
Stores VisitedEast VillageBarnyard194 Ave C (9th and 10th St)Specialty: Cheese This cheese shop has a rustic appeal with aPrice Range: $6-25/ lb clientele of 25-35 year olds, typically inOpen in 2008 relationships.@Barnyard CheeseBond St. Chocolate63 E. 4th St (2nd Ave & Bowery) This chocolate shop is inspired by rock andSpecialty: Chocolate roll, Keith Richards, and is named after thePrice Range: $10-$50+ street shop owner, Lynda Stern, used toOpen: 2009 live on.@BondStChocolateEast Village Cheese40th 3rd Ave (9th and 10th St)Specialty: Cheese This cheese shop has been in business forPrice: $1-$15/ lbs 25 years serving a loyal clientele in theirOpen: 1987 40s and crave affordable cheeses.No TwitterEast Village Meat Market138 2nd Ave (9th and St Marks) This meat shop has been serving the EastSpecialty: Polish Meat/ Sausage Village polish meats and sausages for overPrice Rage: $3-$15+ 30 years. Their established clientele doesntOpen: 1970 require branding and exposure via socialNo Twitter media.
Good Beer422 E 9th St (1st Ave & Ave A)Specialty: Craft Beer Focusing their product line on artisanalPrice: $10+ craft beers, this store attracts "hipsters" inOpen: 2010 plaid who seek quality beer.@goodbeernycPuddin102 St Mark Place (1st+ Ave A)Specialty: Pudding Inspired by her favorite childhood dessert,Price Range: $4-$55 Clio Goodmans brainchild attracts youngOpen: 2012 (3 months) people with a sweet tooth.@puddinNYCRussos344E. 11th St (1st and 2nd Ave) Selling tradition Italian cheeses andSpecialty: Pasta and Mozzarella mozzarella shows how shop ownersPrice Range: $3-$30+ inspiration roots back to their heritage.Open: 1975No TwitterSigmunds29 Ave B (2nd & 3rd St) This shop offers pretzels and a variety ofSpecialty: Pretzels flavors and coffee to wash it down with.Price Range: $3- $7 The atmosphere attracts students whoOpen: 2009 come to study and snack.@SigmundPretzelStogo159 2nd Avenue (at 10th St)Specialty: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Serving dairy-free ice cream, this specialtyPrice Range: $4-$15 shop attracts younger residents looking forOpen: 2008 an alternative dessert.@stogonyc
WilliamsburgBedford Cheese Shop229 Bedford Ave The cheese shop offers quality cheeses toSpecialty: Cheese the neighborhood in a quaint and rusticPrice range: $8-30 per oz atmosphere. Young professionals are theOpened: 2006 dominant clienteles.@bedfordcheeseBreukelen Bier Merchants182 Grand StSpecialty: Craft beerPrice range: $5 per pint Shops offering craft beer shows thatOpened: 2011 consumer habits are shifting towards high@breukelenbier quality, traditionally produced beverages.Depanneur242 Wythe Ave Although specializing in sandwiches, thisSpecialty: Sandwiches & foreign store also offers foreign groceries not grocery available at a typical grocery store; thisPrice range: $10-45 per item shows the influence of "home" amongstOpened: 2010 consumers and shop owners.@dpanneurbklynD.O.C Wine Shop147 BroadwaySpecialty: Wine The large selection of high quality winesPrice range: $30-130 per bottle attracts young professionals with higherOpened: 2007 disposable incomes who like fine wins.@docwinebarFortunato Brothers289 Manhattan Ave Customers are loyal to this establishedSpecialty: Italian Bakery & Gelato store and appreciate the authentic flavorsPrice range: $3-$10+ of Italy.Opened: 1977
Gourmet Guild110 BroadwaySpecialty: Local Goods Offering a larger selection of foods, thisPrice range: $8-20 store is unique in that all products are fromOpened: 2012 (4 months) local growers and producers.@GGaGOGOMarlow & Daughters95 BroadwaySpecialty: Meat (butcher)Price range: $8-15/ lb The sister store of restaurant Marlow &Opened: 2008 Sons, this butcher shop attracts diners@marlowndaughter from the restaurants and locales.Mast Brothers Chocolates111 North 3rd St Brothers Michael and Rick opened thisSpecialty: Chocolate shop because of their passion for handPrice range: $7-15/ bar crafted quality chocolates. The brandingOpened: 2012 (3 months) of the store reflects the favorite memories@mastbrothers they shared sailing the sea.Radish158 Bedford Ave.Specialty: prepared foods The store specializes in home made/Price range: $4-13 prepared dishes that customers can pick upOpened: 2010 to heat and eat at home.@radishnycSmorgasburgWaterfront btw N 6th St & N7th St This "shop" is special in that there is noSpecialty: Local artisanal foods physical location. This food festival is a without store locations meeting ground for al local artisanal foodPrice range: $6-15 per item vendors who do not have standing storeOpened: 2011 locations.@smorgasburgSpuyten Duyvil218 Bedford Ave Price range: $7-25Specialty: Rare beers & Local food
Opened: 2007 Shops offering rare beer shows that consumer habits are shifting towards high quality, traditionally produced beverages.Results From this study, we found some similarities and some differences between the EastVillage and Williamsburg. To begin, we found that specialty shops in the neighborhoods hadexisted for 20 years or more, or less than 5 years. We believed this was because the olderstores were able to afford the rent prices in these neighborhoods that had become “hip”, andthus more expensive, as they had probably stabilized their rent years ago at a lower, moremanageable price. As for the newer stores, we found that they had replaced many differentkinds of stores before them that had gone out of business because of said high rent prices. We also found that though the shops in the EV and WB were located depending onrent prices, it seemed that the shops in the EV were located in areas where there was thecheapest rent. We concluded that because there is such a dense population in the EV andManhattan, the shops only needed to focus on finding the cheapest available rent, rather thanfinding the customers. In WB however, because Brooklyn is a much larger area, and muchless densely populated, the shops had to follow their customers. The new WB shops wereactually in fairly high rent zones, which we believe indicated that they need to be located neartheir customers, rather than where the rent is cheapest. We also found that the shops in WBwere located in clusters, near major hubs of transportation, such as the JMZ Marcy Ave stop,and the Bedford Ave L stop. The East Village shops however, tended to be spread out more,and didn’t really fall into any patterns or groups. Once again, this supports our idea that in theEV, it is more about finding the cheapest way to do business and win customers by remaining
spread out from competition, whereas in WB, because of the larger geography, the shops mustbe located in clusters in order to attract enough customers, in a more collaborative fashion. These conclusions support our findings that for newer shops, branding and socialmedia presence is also huge aspect, as they must do much to win over customers and provetheir products are worth their significantly higher prices. The older shops however, don’t haveto rely on branding or marketing, as they already have a solid base of customers that trusttheir products. Another interesting finding we discovered, was the fact that most of the specialtystores in WB are what we called “necessary pantry item” shops. Their products were more inaccordance with what people would use on a regular basis (though not always necessarypantry items, and higher priced). The customer bases at the WB shops were more consistent,and loyal, and tended to be repeat customers throughout the week or month, depending onthe shop. The EV shops though, were more “occasional item” shops, in a way, moresuperfluous luxury items than gourmet pantry staples, as was the case in WB. The customersof the shops in the EV tended to be one time buyers, or very irregular, rather than repeatcustomers.Maps of East Village
Maps of Williamsburg
Map of East Village and WilliamsburgEvaluation of ResultsOur research allowed us to compare and contrast shop owners sources of inspiration. LikeKeith Richards or Alexander McQueen, these specialty shop owners were inspired by pastexperiences rooting close to home.One shop in the East Village, Bond Street Chocolate is not located on Bond St. but on 4thStreet. However, momtreprenuer and former pastry chef, Lynda Stern explains that her 2009store is named after the street she used to live on. Her love for boozy chocolates was inspiredby her career as a pastry chef. Her famous skull truffles are inspired by Keith Richards.Another shop, Puddin the 3 month old brainchild of Clio Goodman, a British born, Ohioraised pastry chef was also created thanks to her life long passion for food and pastry. Uponleaving the pastry team at Union Square Café and becoming a personal chef, she decided tofocus her new career on her favorite childhood treat. "The idea for a pudding-centric dessertshop took shape after a friend requested one of his favorite childhood treats, butterscotchpudding. As a child, Clio also relished the simple pleasures of a batch of homemade pudding,and she was able to take it to a whole new level."Childhood memories and the home arent only influential amongst newer shops. Both EastVillage Meat and Russos Pasta and Mozzarella have been around since the 70s and 80s.These shops were open and inspired by family traditions rooting back to home countries.Polish meats and sausages and Italian cheeses and pastas are cultural and ritualistic foods.Opening shops to provide the neighborhood with traditions from home shows that inspirationis sourced from what one is familiar with. Passion is also a determining factor in the longevityof each business.
In Brooklyn, Mast Brothers Chocolates branding is inspired by their love of sailing, the seaand childhood memories of sailing together. The ingredients, flavor combinations, packagingof their chocolates, and the décor of the store all relate back to the brothers passion for theocean. The brothers are inspired by "childlike curiosity" while crafting chocolate usingtraditional and ritualistic methods of the Aztecs in a new way.