Bleecker Street is one of New York City’s most historic and eclectic arteries. It housed clubs where Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix cut their teeth, inspired beatniks and, in the early 2000s, became what The New York Times called a “fashion theme park” as some of the industry’s heaviest hitters opened retail shops.
Today, however, is a different story as many of those stores that made Bleecker a bustling hotspot have shuttered, thanks in part to online shopping and drastically rising rents. Across its 20 blocks, the historic street now has a vacancy rate of 18.4 percent, or 38 storefronts, according to The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (GVCCC).
To combat that, especially now that holiday shopping season is upon us, the GVCCC today is launching #ShopBleecker, a monthlong initiative to drive foot traffic and remind New Yorkers that Bleecker Street remains a destination.
“The history of this street, it has had a decrease in foot traffic, but there’s still a lot to see there,” said Maria Diaz, the GVCCC’s executive director. “The past year, it’s been getting a bum rap that people think there’s nothing to do on Bleecker, but there’s still so much you can do. There’s new stores coming on, but they’re adding to the history and culture.”
In-store events, giveaways, raffles and more are part of #ShopBleecker, which has at least 60 participating businesses along Bleecker and its surrounding streets.
One of them is Murray’s Cheese, which has had three locations within 60 feet of each other since opening in 1940.
“It’s fantastic, the whole concept,” Adam Goddu, Murray’s education and events manager, said of #ShopBleecker. “It’s been very hard on us because the central identity for Murray’s is this neighborhood and just seeing all these empty windows and storefronts – a little revitalization for the area is really important.”
Murray’s will be offering demos featuring spicy honeymakers, charcuterie producers and more as part of #ShopBleecker, which Goddu hopes to see last.
“I think it’s important to get the folks down here,” he said. “With so many places closing, it has lost its destination feel, but there’s still some fantastic businesses kicking around and a lot of history, which I think is really important.”
For more info on #ShopBleecker, including its one-day shopping event on Nov. 18, visit shopbleecker.nyc.