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An Illustration of the Recession in Williamsburg

Dory's Hair Salon on Keap Street

For ages on my block here's been an old school barbershop next to my building on Keap Street. The clientele is mostly hispanic males from the local hood, I could tell this because once when I poked my head inside they didn't speak a word of English. Since Keap Street is off of Broadway your business has to be a bit of an institution to survive over time and the barbershop was a good example of this — every time I looked there was always someone getting their hair cut in the shop. And then the recession struck and that everything changed.

Suddenly the shop seemed empty more often than not. I found that I was able to get an unobstructed view of the interior due to a lack of people inside, which isn't a good sign. Then suddenly not to long ago I noticed a construction project going on inside the shop: They were about to split it into two. One one level this made sense to me because paying half of your rent in a recession is a pretty good idea, but then the businessperson in me had my doubts if the plan would work. After all the space was tiny to start with so how would you find another new tenant in a down economy to take up the slack in such a small space?

Enter Dory's Hair Salon! Up the block just a bit on the opposite side of the road was another local institution; Dory's Hair Salon was a ladies version of the local barbershop. Except that Dory's was twice the size as the barbershop and seemed much larger. So as soon as I found out that the Dory's signage was going up, my assumption (being an optimist) was that this was some sort of annex for Dory's which was overbooked.

Much to my shock I was wrong: For within a few day's of this mini-annex opening up the huge haircutting mecca of Dory's closed! In other words not only had the barbershop shrunk by 50% but Dory's shrunk to 30% of their former size. On one hand this real estate strategy was brilliant as it allows both shops to survive, but on the other hand you can see the physical evidence of the devastating effect of the economy right on my block.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 15, 2009 9:54 AM.

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