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/.