More downtown merchants have added Sunday hours for the first time in their business lives in response to the thriving Schenectady Greenmarket at Proctors.
At least four Jay Street businesses added new Sunday hours since the market opened in November, up from two in the beginning.
The market is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features local food products, including meats, cheese, apples, pears, breads, tea, wine, jams, tomatoes and fresh herbs, as well as crafts. Most of the green merchants are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
“We have had 2,000 people show up at the market. We viewed the crowd as the size of a sold-out Proctors show. So we asked businesses to open on Sunday,” said Greg Salomon, president of the Jay Street Business Association.
With the advent of colder weather, the crowds have declined to 600 to 800. Nonetheless, local merchants said even this traffic is helping them.
“We’re getting sales and more people than we get on a weekday,” said Nancy Niefield, owner of Two Spruce Pottery on Jay Street.
Marc Renson, owner of Ambition Coffee & Eatery on Jay Street, said people visit the cafe after the market closes to grab a sandwich and a glass of wine.
“We opened on a leap of faith because a lot of people said there were new faces coming downtown,” he said.
The leap paid off — “It’s been positive,” he said.
Janet Hutchison, owner of the Open Door Bookstore on Jay Street, said customer response on Sunday has been excellent.
“They were very popular with our customers. We share customers with the green market,” she said.
The Open Door will be open this Sunday for the first time since January. The store was open on Sunday for the holidays in November and December, then closed Sundays during January. Merchants said January is their slowest sales month.
The Open Door also reduced its Thursday hours, closing at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., because business dropped off after 8 p.m. downtown. The Open Door was the last store on Jay Street to remain open until 9 p.m.
Niefield said she has been in business on Jay Street for 20 years and had never opened on Sunday. Then the green market came along and with it people and greenbacks.
“I opened not knowing what to expect, but it was very good and very busy,” she said.
Glassy Beads shares space with Two Spruce Pottery in the shop.
Niefield said some of the customers are first-time visitors to downtown.
Tom Lawrence of Lennon’s Irish Shop on Jay Street plans to restart Sunday hours this weekend after stopping them during January.
“It is beneficial to open on Sunday,” even though traffic has dropped because of the weather and the economy, he said.
Salomon said more shops will open on Sunday as the weather improves. In May, the green market will move outside to a location to be announced. He said this will drive more business to downtown merchants.
“The green market has been one of the best economic development tools for small merchants in years,” he said. “We are looking froward to a good spring.”
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