In the ever-chipper language of public relations, this year’s “Shopper Bowl Shuffle,” a downtown sales push in conjunction with the Super Bowl, is “bigger and better,” says a press release from RiverCenter.
The “better” remains open to interpretation, but in fact, Shopper Bowl II is shaping up as somewhat smaller than last year’s version. And the falloff in participation among downtown businesses illustrates the challenges that organizers face in corralling large numbers of merchants for themed, collective efforts.
RiverCenter, the nonprofit administrator of the downtown Special Improvement District, lists 41 stores, restaurants and salons that plan to be open and offering discounts of 20 percent or more this weekend. A year ago, there were 53. And only 38 of this year’s participating stores are expect to be open both days of the two-day event, down from an estimated 48 last year.
Nineteen businesses that were on last year’s list aren’t on this year’s, a drop partly attributable to store closings and relocations. Furnishings retailer Vizzini & Company, for example, moved from Monmouth Street to the Galleria, which is outside the district. Old Monmouth Candies, on Broad Street for the past two years, recently retrenched to its original Freehold location. The Paper Rose, a card store on Broad, is closing for renovations.
But it’s not only a matter of the steady churn of retail faces that accounts for the decline. A dozen businesses that held sales last year and still operate in the district didn’t re-up, even though nearly all of them plan to be open Saturday anyway. They are: Agostino Antiques, Coco Pari, Mustillo’s, Primas Home & Cafe, Surray Luggage, Maxwell & Sophie, Drummer’s Alley, Readie’s Fine Foods, Seldin’s Jewelry, Cigars Plus, Grieco’s Bakery and Quicksilver Handcrafted Jewelry.