If you build it, they will come: Bryant Park Winter Village vendors hopeful for productive & safe season

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Ron Menin, owner of Hell’s Kitchen Hot Sauce in his Bryant Park stand on Friday, Oct. 30.
Photos by Alex Mitchell

Although the nineteenth season for the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park will certainly be both a modified and socially distant one, vendors remain optimistic for some successful, upcoming holiday weeks since opening to the public on Friday.

According to a current vendor, only 30 percent of the village’s usual retail footprint is operating this year in a capacity reduction effort – one of many changes deemed necessary for a successful run.

For skating, online reservations are required and mask-wearing is mandatory for the new-look, free Bryant Park rink, one which will feature a lodge deck acting as an “outdoor après skate-escape for visitors” looking to enjoy the spacious view with food and drinks.

The more socially distant ice rink and surrounding lodge at Bryant Park.

Despite these along with other changes, Hell’s Kitchen Hot Sauce owner Ron Menin is confident to have at least a decent outing during his second year at the park.

He did acknowledge things might not be as “bananas busy” as the 2019 showing, but Menin believes being out will not only give his spicy sauces good exposure but also show a sign of coming together for both the retail and New York communities. 

Menin, whose businesses is based out of Columbus Circle’s Turnstyle Market believes that New Yorkers want to be out and safely return to doing things they love around the city – especially during the holiday season. 

“If you build it, they will come,” he said.

Shoppers look into a booth at Bryant Park on Friday, October 30.

Katie Flaherty, owner of Brooklyn-based Flutter By Katie, a handmade butterfly lepidoptery-style art business said she was “cautiously optimistic” for her very first season at Bryant Park.

Popup stands, like previous ones at Union Square are a bulk of Flaherty’s income, she said.

Her good feeling on this winter season comes after having a few successful pop-ups over the summer months around the city, ones which saw a great deal of repeat customer loyalty and small business support – something Flaherty is anticipating this winter on hopefully a larger scale.

As far as health precautions, Flutter By Katie will allow only two customers at a time in addition to constant and thorough wipedowns of the stand.

Katie Flaherty, owner of Flutter By Katie prepares for customers on Friday, Oct. 30.

Another Manhattan vendor, Leynel Arias told that he and his wife’s metallic sculpture stand, One Million Roses makes over half of its income from the Bryant Park village since opening their midtown booth four years ago.

He is also hopeful that the park sees good amounts of foot traffic which will drive his business during this trying time for local businesses let alone in-person shops.

Leynel Arias of One Million Roses.

In an effort to help other small businesses this season, Bank of America is featuring four city-based, minority-owned small businesses in a rent-free stall at the park, starting with Brooklyn’s Annie Mae’s Bakery, a Black female-owned eatery.

Following that will be Harlem’s Heaven Hats along with Queens-based TREESTAR* NYC and Tibet Tree of Life.

The rink and lodge deck by Urbanspace will remain open through March 7 of next year while the holiday shops stay in Bryant Park until January 3 of 2021.

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