Market may be a tough sell

04/08/2010 12:00 AM |

As enthusiastic as Clearing House’s operators are about providing local merchants with off-season space where they can sell their goods in year-round communities, there are skeptics on the North Fork

“I guess it’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s going to drag [shoppers] to Greenport,” said Mike Acebo, president of the village Business Improvement District. “Wouldn’t a very good Web site do the same?” He noted that some merchants unable to afford high rents in Greenport have closed their brick-and-mortar stores and begun selling only via the Internet.

Could it be a cash cow for winter months when a lot of Greenport merchants close here because there’s so little traffic? That depends on whether those merchants want a winter break, Mr. Acebo said. Some are retired people who prefer having their winters free and some have pensions that allow them to take several months off from the stores, he said. Others have full-time jobs, such as teaching, and consider their stores a summer business, he said.

“I’m intrigued by it,” Mr. Acebo said of the Clearing House concept. But, he said, having visited similar bazaars in other communities didn’t prompt him to want to visit the main stores of those businesses.

Mr. Acebo feels that what needs to happen to give Greenport store owners is for landlords to lower rents, which only a few have done. He’s also critical of merchants who complain that customers have nowhere to park in downtown, but take up available spaces with their own vehicles.

Shelley Scoggin of The Market said Clearing House wouldn’t work for her because she feels a need to be on the premises personally to answer customers’ questions about the stock she sells.

“It might be appropriate for gift shops,” Ms. Scoggin said.

But not for Lisa Dreitlein of Creations by Lisa on Main Street.

“I’m kind of a one-man band here,” Ms. Dreitlein said. She said she can’t imagine trying to run two stores at once and isn’t among those who close for months at a time.