Yesterday, The Shophound took a stroll down Madison Avenue to Midtown just to get a sense of how the city's retailers were getting back up to speed. We were pleasantly surprised to see about 90% of the stores we passed open, even if it was just for limited hours. And they weren't just busy. they were bustling like it was a Holiday shopping day and not just a random Wednesday afternoon in the Fall. Clearly, there were lots of stranded tourists and New Yorkers unable to get to work who had some pent-up energy they were expending on shopping. That's great for the stores, who lost at least two full days of business due to the storm, (except for Barneys which, miraculously, was able to re-open on Tuesday afternoon). They need to recoup, and even Bergdorf Goodman (pictured above) happily opened its doors before its staff had time to remove the protective plywood from its windows. Reminders of the storm remained, most prominently the infamous One57 crane which kept its 57th Street block inaccessible and was conspicuously visible far down the gridlocked crosstown passage, but crowds weres storming the sidewalks.
Of course, downtown is a different story. Still without power, Chelsea, Union Square and below continue to be described as a ghost town. This city has always been able to delineate the difference between haves and have-nots in peculiarly vivid ways, but right now that distinction is not purely economic, aesthetic or social. It is simply, randomly, geographical, for once. Hopefully, this won't last for more than a few days. When the power comes back on, everyone should head downtown to shop. Those stores will genuinely need as much support as they can get.