Myrtle Avenue’s BID says closed Ridgewood storefronts are mostly due to changes in retail business

The corner of Myrtle Avenue and 60th Lane in Ridgewood today, near where the Our Darling Match Factory once stood. (Photo via Google Maps)

For years now, Ridgewood residents have grown concerned over the amount of closing storefronts and number of vacancies that loom over Myrtle Avenue’s shopping strip.

But according to Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) in Ridgewood, experts found that the vacancy rate is “not serious” compared to other markets.

“Our vacancy rate is about six and a half, almost seven percent,” Renz told QNS. “It’s a pretty stable commercial strip.”

However, Renz acknowledged that for their district, which spans from Wyckoff Avenue to Fresh Pond Road, the vacancy rate is higher than the strip’s traditional rates of “three and four percent.”

The BID executive director also mentioned that some of the stores that have recently shuttered belong to a national chain rather than small businesses, such as Payless ShoeSource and Petland Discounts.

The closures are part of a national trend, which has seen many retail stores that once thrived now filing for bankruptcy and subsequently shutting their doors.

“Retailing is changing,” Renz said. “There are some new stores coming in, but it’s an ongoing thing where businesses go out and others come in.”

The Ridgewood Seneca/Catalpa Stroll, hosted by the BID in the hopes of showcasing local businesses, will be taking place on Oct. 26, from 12 to 5 p.m. It will stretch Seneca Avenue from Weirfield Street to Cornelia Street and Catalpa Avenue, and back to Myrtle Avenue.

The event will feature lots of food, kid-friendly activities, antique buses from the MTA and beer tastings from local breweries, including the newly opened Evil Twin Brewering New York City.

On the other hand, a recent survey conducted by QNS and Ridgewood Times found that Glendale’s half of Myrtle Avenue is struggling to offer destination stores for consumers and meet the needs of its small business owners.

To combat this, Dorothy Stepnowska, owner of Flower Power Coffee House, is spearheading the newly resurrected Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

Stepnowska has worked with Renz for ideas on how to help the small business owners, who she says are being met with unfair treatment by city officials.

“I think the city has to do a little more for small businesses because we’re the backbone of it,” she said. “I hear people constantly telling me that it’s too expensive. The city is not for small businesses, all we do is get fined for any little thing.”

Stepnowska recently experienced first hand some financial setbacks for her business when the city passed a law that prohibited CBD-infused food and drinks.

Seeing fellow business owners struggle to know their rights is what’s driving her to lead the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, which she hopes won’t just focus on Glendale but Queens as a whole.

Stepnowska invites the community to attend the Chamber’s next meeting on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Ridgewood Savings Bank.