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LIC pop-up ‘Made in Queens’ to close at the end of 2016, store not economically viable

Source: Notey

Dec. 9, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan

A Long Island City popup shop dedicated to selling Queens-made merchandise is closing several months ahead of schedule due to weak business.

Made In Queens, located at 27-24 Queens Plaza South, was established by the Queens Economic Development Corporation in June to sell goods from local manufacturers.

The store, which was supposed to remain open until the end of March, is now closing at the end of the year since it has become “unsustainable,” said QEDC Director of Business Services Sante Antonelli.

The store was funded by a $40,000 grant from Capital One, allowing the QEDC to secure the space and cover operating costs. The makers also paid a fee to sell their products in the store, ranging from $150 per month for food products to $350 per month for non-food products.

Despite these sources of funding, the store operated at a loss, Antonelli said, largely due to lack of foot traffic in and out of the store.

He said that the QEDC decided to remain open during the busy holiday season. However, he added, it did not make sense to keep the store open beyond that point.

“We have about 3,000 people walk by the store every day, but [the numbers] walking in were not as high as we anticipated, probably because the space is not on a retail shopping block,” Antonelli said. “For us to make a dent we would have to be there for several years so people would recognize our location and come purposefully.”

Despite the store operating in the red, Antonelli said that the project accomplished exactly what it set out to do.

“A lot of great things came out of the store, it allowed local makers to sell in the Queens market, it gave us a chance to get to know the Queens makers and their needs and do some market research,” Antonelli said.

He said that the QEDC collected quite a bit of market research that it plans to use to move the project in to the next phase, including data on foot traffic, price points, product popularity, and more.

Though not quite sure what that next phase may be, Antonelli said that the QEDC is dedicated to helping local makers thrive, and has tossed around several ideas for next steps.

One option the QEDC continues to debate is whether to set up an e-commerce website and sell wares online. This concept is not simple due to the QEDC’s non-profit status.

Antonelli also said that the QEDC is looking at partnering with existing stores “that already have a heartbeat and foot traffic.”

Made in Queens will remain open through December 30, with a one-week period in the first week of January where makers will have the option to sell their leftover wares at a discount.

After that, the QEDC is unsure of what it will do with the space until the lease is up at the end of March.

Antonelli said that they are looking at hosting events in the space, and are open to partnering with other community organizations with ideas.

To see what local products are available at the store and learn more about its mission, visit the website at http://www.madeinqueens.nyc/.

email the author: [email protected]

25 Comments

edmund chou

I am an art craft designer and flower arranger, I read made in queens news in Chinese paper World Journal. Do you still operate? How can I join in to show and sell my works.

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Sante Antonelli

Thank you for writing about MiQ! We’re very proud of our work to date and would like to add a few details. We opened our doors on June 7, 2016 as a pop-up that would stay open at most 10 months. Our project always had an end in mind for this phase of the project. One of our goals was — and still is — to establish a Made in Queens presence, and we have successfully accomplished this goal.

We also discovered more than 100 local manufacturers and helped them generate sales revenue, create a visual brand, create brand communication, and showcase their goods on three social media channels. All our vendors are very happy with the experience.

We offered lots more value, too, such as multiple exposures in local media outlets (include Queens Post!) and enabling some makers to connect with new corporate accounts. In some cases, they made contacts for the first time ever. All vendors learned to comply with local laws, and we helped them collect New York State sales tax.

MiQ 2016 was the first phase of a long-winded race, not a sprint. We have a trademarked brand, and a MiQ certification with at least two tangible outputs to welcome in 2017. We continue to embrace new opportunities for local community stakeholders and creative makers.

A full report of the MiQ project will be published in Q1 2017. In the meantime, we have three more weeks of shopping ahead of us. (I know several people who did all their holiday shopping in our store.) So shop local and stay tuned for what this new initiative has to offer in 2017.

Finally, I’d point out that MiQ hosted various comedy nights and corporate shopping nights, inviting various community stakeholders. We have a few more ones coming up. They include 3D holiday card making, a chance to meet and take a photo with Sarah Claus (You’ll love her; photo attached), and chutney-tasting.

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Ginger the Pirate

I made the trek over there, it’s a weird neighborhood. They had a weird mix of stuff too, there was a fridge full of goods and then expensive purses. They would have been been better off closer to Vernon.

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MRLIC

I’m glad I bought those loofahs for Mother before they closed. She loves a good scrubdown, although it gets crowded in that tub.

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WeHos

If we’re lucky, maybe a Chinese “massage” parlor will open there. Just what the community really needs.

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Paul

Not sure how they EVER thought a business like this would be successfuI, but in fairness, I won’t touch on the “concept” of the store, because at the end all they are is an overpriced arts and craft store with a few smoothie drinks randomly tossed to the side. Local stores like this cannot and will not survive in LIC. If that location is converted to a Starbucks, watch the traffic grow tenfold. Made in Queens type stores will do well only in areas like Jamaica Avenue

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OAR

I went in there 2 times. I work right there at the Dept. of Health and there is a lot of foot traffic, just not the kind that can afford the prices of the merchandise for sale. The hand made leather bags were expensive nothing spectacular. I would have liked to have sold my pottery there, however the cost to have your products there was prohibitive for new artists just starting out.

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[email protected]

This is a crazy example of a wasteful spending in the economy… 1) grant money was wasted (though, i don’t know how much $40k would’ve purchased. Even trash bins on the street costs $10 a pop); 2) the local manifacturers had to pay to post their merchandise, and i’m sure they were sold a much rosier picture of shoppers flocking to this store en masse; 3) hippie do-gooders failed, much expectedly, b/c they don’t know how to attract foot traffic in a very thin market to begin with.
Waste.

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Michael

It is not really a waste of grant money. I just heard about this place today, and will go shop there before the end of the year. Capital One did a good thing giving them the money to try it out.

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TodayTomorrow

Huh. For someone who’s so opinionated, you don’t seem to know very much about how things work.

For starters, a development corporation isn’t run by “hippie do-gooders.” It’s usually run my members of the local business community with an invested interest in developing the economic success of the area. In this case, QEDC has been around since 1977, which means it’s a 40 year old group. If you’re pro-capitalism, you should be pro-organizations like this.

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Annoyed as hell.

This is nuts. I didn’t even know this place existed until I saw this damn post! If I knew about it, I would have BEEN shopping there!

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Astoria4Life

Me too! I love the idea of supporting the local economy – I just never heard about it. They should / should have partnered with some of the other LIC / Queens organizations like the LIC Flea to get the word out to an audience that would already be interested.

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brooklynmc

There have been articles about it right here. In fact, people were complaining about the cost to vendors which I thought was actually pretty cheap. I have never been there because I don’t go to downtown LIC. They should try it again but closer to Center Blvd. Maybe off Vernon. The problem is that for now, LIC is a bedroom community. Not a lot of feet on the ground during the day. Then at night, people go to their huge fortresses and don’t come out.

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Anonymous visitor

Brooklynmc, “bedroom community”. For your info queens plaza south has lots of foot traffic by day and so does Jackson Ave!

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Anonymous

Same here! Also Im a metalsmith and would have brought stuff to sell there! There are a lot of spots on Vernon available – move there! Like the old Licorice space.

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Tom G.

If the QUEENS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION cant make a go of a store…don’t they lose all credibility as knowing how to spur the economy? Pull funding.

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