Governor Paterson delivered a blunt state of the state address in which he chastised lawmakers for putting the state in danger. In the speech, he proposed setting up a global insurance exchange in New York, much like Lloyd’s in London.
A list of potential development projects, including Greenwich South.
In May 2008, the AKO Store & Design Studio opened at 207A Front St. in The Seaport, selling clothes and jewelry designed by owner Andrea Katz. In its 2009 Shopping Guide, Time Out New York listed the hip boutique with a workroom upstairs as one of the best independent shops in the Financial District, commenting on its deeply discounted prices and its art shows featuring a different artist or photographer each month. On Sunday, Jan. 3, AKO closed, putting its fixtures up for sale.
“It was because of the economy,” said Ms. Katz. “We had been open about four months and it was like someone just turned the spigot off.” She was in the wholesale as well as in the retail business, but her wholesale clients stopped paying their bills. Then, she said, “I couldn’t pay my people – my fabric people and my factory and on and on.” She said she continued with her new collection but couldn’t raise capital. “I went to every single government agency to try to get a loan and I could not get a loan from anybody,” she said. “There’s no money for small business out there. We started out asking for $100,000 and a month ago, we were down to $25,000. We tried so hard to get money. My business partner has the most unbelievable credit rating you could imagine. We went to New York City Business Solutions, SEEDCO, we contacted five different banks, six different finance companies. The last thing we tried to do was just to get another $25,000 business credit card. We were turned down because of excessive credit inquiries on our credit.”
Ms. Katz said that both SEEDCO and New York City Business Solutions told her there was no money for businesses like hers because of the size of her business and because of the business she was in. “They said we were too high risk.”
Ms. Katz employed 14 people as pattern makers, seamstresses, sample makers and sales assistants. Now all are out of work. For the immediate future, Ms. Katz who lives on Water Street in the Financial District, will be working out of her apartment and will sell on her Web site. “I have my samples,” she said, adding that she expected to do several trunk shows. “I have to spend the next year getting out of debt,” she added.
“There’s always a bit of attrition but I think there’s no question that it’s disproportionately hitting the Financial District,” said Ro Sheffe, chair of Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee. “It’s a combination of the chaos of rebuilding and the recession. Layoffs have affected every stratum of financial services companies. Lower-level employees would be the ones to go out for lunch or get their nails done, things like that. A lot of the merchants in the Financial District relied on those people more than the top earners.”
“We did everything we possibly could,” Ms. Katz said ruefully. “People just stopped buying.”