As the first quarter of 2014 opened with several store closings in White Plains, all within a few blocks of each other along Mamaroneck Avenue from Quarropas to Main Street, residents and other business owners were asking the same questions: "What's going on? Is there a problem?"
Easily rattled by a slow economic recovery from a recession that caused financial pain all around, people are concerned.
According to Kevin Nunn, executive director of the White Plains Business Improvement District (BID) that supports businesses within the area of the recent closings: "It's around Christmastime when you usually see people go out of business."
Nunn said he has spoken with the landlords in the affected area and has been told leases are out. â€˜That means someone is looking at the space," Nunn explained." I would be more concerned if that were not the case. These recent closings are different from the empty storefronts on the Post Road, which are more specifically related to the landlords, he added.
Nunn further noted that it is difficult to be an entrepreneur. "You need a capital cushion to get through the bad times," he said, adding that the banks are not as inclined to make loans to small businesses that have not proven themselves.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach expressed the same opinion, saying that White Plains is an attractive city for business and new people are always looking to come in. He agreed with Nunn that it is the nature of small businesses to come and go, even though we find that disappointing.
Roach said he was encouraged by growth at White Plains Hospital, which would encourage more business in the city, an indication that White Plains' economic strength could be trending in the direction of medicine and new technology.
Both Nunn and Roach expect a new venture to open soon at the former location of the Buttercup Bake Shop on the corner of Martine Avenue and Court Street. The small bakery featuring home-baked cupcakes made in small batches was a spin off of a very popular bakery in Manhattan.
The nature of the new business remains undisclosed.
The other retail closings, all on Mamaroneck Avenue, Rite Aid, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Energy Kitchen and Legal Seafood, are franchises.
Nunn noted that Legal Seafood had been struggling for a while at the White Plains location.
According to Boston restaurant blog sites the Massachusetts-based Legal Seafoods made the decision to close two of its franchises in late 2013. The Boca Raton, Florida restaurant closed in October and the White Plains location shut down on December 22. The Legal Seafood franchises at other locations both inside and outside Massachusetts have remained open.
The situation is similar for Rite Aid, which according to dailyfinance.com had been lagging behind competitors Walgreen and CVS Caremark nationally. That organization closed numerous under-producing stores and pharmacies at the end of 2013.
Cheeburger Cheeburger's story in White Plains is echoed in other cities as well. Sudden store closings where the business appeared to be doing well one day and the next day were closed were reported in local newspapers in several states.
As for Energy Kitchen, a message on the parent company's website explains they had decided to close down all their locations and were saying "goodbye to all their loyal customers."Source: The Examiner Pat Casey| Feb 18, 2014