A ROLL OF TAPE, BUT HOLD THE CHERRIES

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We thought we had a big scoop when we reported back in July, 2006 (yes, newbies, redbankgreen is that old) that Ben & Jerry’s was planning to open a store on White Street.

The western end of the block, which sees relatively little foot traffic past Clearview Cinemas, would come alive with new businesses, triggering a land rush, we speculated. And things would only heat up if the long-debated parking garage was ever built on the White Street municipal lot.

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Well, that vision gradually melted away. Though a sign touting the ice cream purveyor’s anticipated arrival stood for months in the window of a vacant storefront at 68 White, the butter pecan, cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby frozen desserts never materialized.

But now, at least, the storefront is no longer vacant, thanks to the constant churn of retail establishments downtown, which are born, trade spaces and die with sometimes alarming frequency.

In the survivor/relocator class is Paul Schick, who last week shipped his UPS store over from 48 Broad Street, bringing with him a loyal clientele developed over the past decade.

The move was prompted by the prospect of a rent hike. By moving to the new location, Schick managed to both keep his per-square-foot lease costs relatively steady while cutting the floor area in half, from 2,400 square foot to 1,200, he says.

The Broad Street space had lots of unused floor space; the more efficient new address happens to be the average size of UPS store across the country, he notes, and doesn’t squeeze his operation in the least.

Having established his copy center/mail drop/shipping station as a destination business, Schick is confident his existing customer base will not only follow, but appreciate the move.

“Seventy-five to 80 percent of my customers drive to the store,” he says. Now he’s got four customer parking spaces on the side of his building, not to mention the metered street parking and the lot just across the street.

Though the few retailers at that end of White are destination shops — Cigars Plus, Little Willow baby acessories, Hobbymasters — they may notice a tiny bit more foot traffic. Schick says he gets about 100 customers daily.

“I’m guessing a lot of people will zip in and out” of the UPS store, says Kristin Cooper Rainey, proprietor of Little Willow. “But the parking spaces are right next to our shop, so it will still expose our shop to more people.” She’s also looking forward to using Schick’s services as her online sales increase.

Then, of course, there’s the whole question of whether Trader Joe’s will come in and reignite the idea of a White Street garage. Since we reported back in September that representatives of the specialty supermarket met with borough officials, Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels says he hasn’t heard a word from the company.

Whatever comes, Schick will be there. He’s got a a five-year-lease with two five-year options.

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