Fort Lee’s Hudson Lights can have huge positive impact for area retail


The creation of Hudson Lights and  The Center at Fort Lee are two very crucial projects to Fort Lee and to all of the surrounding communities

Business district near Hudson Lights

In a June 4th 2012 article on northjersey titled….Fort Lee development will improve “tired” downtown, mayor says…Ft Lee’s Mayor Sokolich stated that the special improvement district was created to clean up “a tired downtown” which would in turn help current shop owners in the town.

And he’s correct in his thinking.  However, a lot more needs to be done for this to be a success for store owners who have been in Ft Lee for years, or decades.

The problem facing Ft Lee’s downtown isn’t unlike the problems facing every downtown area in our region:

  • there’s tremendous competition from shopping centers,
  • competition from the internet where it’s easy to shop for deals…and for current merchandise,
  • a large percentage of downtown stores fail after a year or two because they don’t carry products that most people want
  • most downtown stores are poorly marketed, if they’re marketed at all
  • most stores carry outdated merchandise
  • most stores and their storefront windows are ugly and are uninviting to passersby

So to think that the creation of Hudson Lights and The Center at Fort Lee, will bring instant prosperity to shop owners is highly unlikely.  The developers  and the town are not responsible for making these businesses successful, so expensive overhead crosswalks aren’t the answer.  If these shop owners have something worthwhile to walk to, then people will cross the street to get there.

This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.  But it rests solely on the shoulders of the owners themselves.

These two projects can’t make everyone successful, unless the store owners and landlords make that happen.

And here’s how it can happen:

  • If you carry merchandise or supply services that people want they will seek you out
  • store owners need to update their business models so they can compete and draw customers
  • update your storefronts so they look as appealing as a new modern store
  • learn to market yourselves on blogs, twitter, and through local newspapers
  • To an extent you’re going to have to compete on price, so you better do it
  • your merchandise has to be what people are looking for
  • create delivery services for whatever you sell, so it becomes easier for the apartment renters to buy your products
  • landlords have to update their buildings, because if they remain ugly and the current stores fail, then it’s going to be that much harder, or impossible to re-lease the space without offering steep discounts
  • create new signage that compete with the new projects
  • learn to draw from the traffic that the new retailers will be spending tons of money on to create

Unfortunately some of the existing stores will fail.  But if you look at their balance sheets at this time they’ve probably been on life support for years, and it was only a matter of pride why the plug wasn’t pulled years before.

These projects will bring in a tremendous amount of new traffic to this area, and retailers need to learn how to grab the attention of those people.  If you don’t know how to compete in a modern local economy, your business will fail.  And you will only have yourself to blame.

There are dozens of ways to compete and to increase your local business…retailers just need to step out of their comfort zone and learn how to create success, because it won’t happen by accident, or because of an increase in traffice.

In anticipation of a huge influx of new potential business, start your social media marketing now, and start updating your stores and merchandise.  The existing stores have an advantage over new stores, because these stores are already part of the community, so use that yo your advantage.

Play to compete.

Social media can be your key to success.

Let me know what you think.

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