Two Business Models on 29th Street

Adam Davidson reports that there’s something of a battle between the discount stores and the creative outposts on Manhattan’s 29th street. WHICH WILL WIN?!?! (The one with the most money, probably.)

POINT ONE: “Kemi Alao … owns Lasting Impressions, a boutique in Jos, Nigeria … [She]is a remarkably successful entrepreneur in a poor country. She sells all kinds of off-brand items from fragrances to clothes, but she doesn’t trust her local Nigerian wholesalers. ‘There are lots of fake things,’ she said of Nigeria’s knocked-off discount market. So every three months or so, she or her husband flies to the United States with a wad of cash and empty suitcases … These entrepreneurs come because it’s one of the few places in the world focused on their needs. They want to buy mixed lots of decent-quality items at extremely low prices. They also want to pay cash.”

POINT TWO: “On a recent visit [to The Ace Hotel] I noted that while a few had purchased coffee from the lobby waiters, most didn’t seem to be paying customers. When I pointed out these freeloaders to Alex Calderwood, the Ace Hotel’s co-founder and co-owner, he said that he rejected advice to charge customers for the Wi-Fi or kick them out after an hour. Calderwood thinks that having a lobby filled with energetic young people meeting, and bumping into one another, is good business. It allows him to charge higher rates for the rooms upstairs, and it’s also part of a broader business strategy.”

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