I was in the park this past week, watching them assemble the magical winter wonderland. There shall be free ice-skating on the 17,000+ square foot outdoor rink. There shall be 180+ holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries for your shopping pleasure. I actually sat down for almost an hour and watched as they were assembling the Winter Village like one big Lego project.
If it feels wrong or weird to be talking about Christmas and the holidays before you have even made a dent in your Halloween candy, I'm with you.
I love Bryant Park. I love it all year long.
But the Winter Village is really something special. Countless stores ranging from home decorations, artwork, jewelry and amazing food. If you are looking for a unique place to have dinner in NYC, this is a great choice. The Winter Village in Bryant Park is not only the largest Christmas market in the city, but also by far the nicest. And it is so easy to get to from anywhere - it's just a few blocks away from Port Authority Bus Terminal, or Grand Central or Penn Station.
Last year the Winter Village was open from October until March 4th. That is over 1/3rd of the year. Is it just me, or does it seem that every year they push it just a little harder, open just a little sooner, and close just a little later?
We used to joke about Thanksgiving and Christmas - how you really should not be "pushing the holidays" ie: SHOPPING before we have our amazing turkey dinner and tryptophan induced food coma.
But now - Christmas...before Halloween?
My personal opinion: this is the Amazon Effect in The Big Apple.
Small business continues to get squeezed. Our friend Seth Godin covered this today in his blog: the simple dynamics of failing retail.
NYDLA.org will have its Christmas Party there this year, just like we always do. But our Christmas Holiday party will be in DECEMBER, as close to December 25th as possible.
My point is this: you cannot keep opening earlier and earlier in the year, to offset the Amazon effect. Seth says it very well: you cannot beat Amazon. You cannot figure out how to be as cheap as Amazon...you can't. But as a small business owner you CAN figure out how to do what Amazon cannot do.
People who will shop at the Winter Village want the hands-on service, they want to try things on, they want the chance to chat. They want the experience. The experience you cannot get online.
Trying to manipulate the calendar to compete against Amazon is not the way to do it. That's a race to the bottom. Or maybe it's like a ride on a carousel - you are moving but you are not really getting anywhere.
Bryant Park Carousel