By Charles F. Otey
Coronavirus forces stores to close, but Howe, BID leaders step up communications
Most stores are closed here, but Merchants of Third Avenue President Bob Howe is working with business leaders and merchants from all over Bay Ridge to keep the lines of communication open.
Official estimates vary, but a reliable source advises that there are more than 10,000 employees working in the hundreds of local businesses on Third and Fifth avenues, as well as the 86th Street shopping area.
“Small business is anything but ‘small’ as far as neighborhoods like ours are concerned,” Howe said. “We must obey all local and federal anti-virus warnings and still keep an eye on the time when things return to normal. To prepare for normalcy, we must keep open the lines of communication here.”
The campaign started with his first message, as follows:
“As we find ourselves in this critical, ever-changing environment, the volunteer officers of the Merchants of Third Avenue Association, in conjunction with the Business Improvement District Steering Committee, have been meeting to discuss how best to assist the avenue stakeholders.
“Because of the continuing developments in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, the advice and information available at this moment could change in the blink of an eye. With that in mind, the Association and the Steering Committee has developed the following plan: We will aggregate and disseminate the most current information we can gather from a variety of sources, including the New York City Small Business Services [SBS], the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the information coming out of the 76 NYC BIDS and the information coming from our elected officials.”
Once Howe and his team launched the communications initiative, he and Sheila Brody, who also leads the avenue’s BID Steering Committee, started working with the Fifth Avenue BID, led by Amanda Zenteno, and the 86th Street BID, led by Patrick Condren, in an effort to coordinate information gathering and sharing to better serve the entire Greater Bay Ridge area.
Howe: We must share what we know
In the meantime, the Merchants of Third Avenue organization is sharing information about topics such as insurance for income loss from member and insurance expert Dan Texeira and social media postings from Brody of the Green Spa & Wellness Center.
“We are also sharing information from our elected officials,” Howe said. “We are encouraging our members to share on our social media as well. We will act as a clearing house for tips and hints [and maybe some funny or uplifting stories] from our retailers and food service operators. Make sure you are following us on social media so we can stay connected: @merchantsof3rdave on Instagram and @ThirdAvenueBayRidge on Facebook.”
Noting an eerie Cuomo ‘corona’ connection
In a recent Facebook posting, this writer noted the following:
“Corona — a name that launched former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s career — can be linked directly with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent rise to national statute. In 1969, young Mario came to the rescue of the ‘Corona 69’ — residents who were fighting to save their building. In 2020, Andrew’s excellent explanations and clear understanding of the coronavirus have catapulted him to deserved acclaim. Call it coincidence … eerie!”
‘Horsing Around’ on Third Ave.
Granted there wasn’t much traffic on Third Avenue this past week, but many were surprised — pleasantly so — to see Diana Howe making friends with a beautiful horse named Morgi, owned by Abdul Elenani, whose entrepreneurial holdings include Cocoa Grinder and the newly opened Fritebar. “Lady Di,” as she’s known to thousands of friends, was helping husband Bob Howe, who serves as president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, in conducting a discreet, keep-your-distance survey of the avenue, which has come to a virtual standstill since the coronavirus outbreak.