Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Big Apple

The day started with a 3:15 wake-up.  I had been excited the night before so I am not sure how much I had slept.  But I still bounded out of bed, ready to go!  I can be at Union Station from my house in about 20 - 25 minutes and got there at around 5 am.  Grabbed an Americano and a bagel and waited to board the train.
I found a nice spot by the window in the Quiet Car and settled in with my laptop to catch up on email.  At one point, the conductor came into the Quiet Car and yelled at some people for not being quiet.  Fortunately, I was not one of them!

We pulled into Penn Station right on time.  I took a few moments to get my bearings and headed up to 8th and 33rd to get in the taxi line.  After a very short wait, I was in the taxi and on my way! A note - all of the cab drivers I encountered were wonderful - polite, took me right to my destination (I always map it out so I know if they are trying to cheat me), kept their cabs well air-conditioned and clean. No complaints!

I was a little early for my meeting so I decided to explore the neighborhood a bit. I was intrigued by what looked like a large church at the corner of 6th and 20th. When I went to check it out, I found it was a collection of small shops called Limelight Marketplace.

I later learned that the location had been an Episcopalian church and then a notorious nightclub prior to becoming a shopping destination. It has only been open in it's current format for a few months. All of the stores are open - almost like having a bunch of small kiosks in one place. The most interesting things were the food related ones - I browsed (and salivated) but didn't buy anything!

Then it was off to RTR! I met with Christian, who I had emailed with and spoken with over the phone. He could not have been nicer or more helpful!

We spent about an hour together, going through all of the different sizes, qualities, handle styles and printing options on bags, boxes, receipt envelopes and tissue paper.  I also shared the logo design and the illustration of Zoe Girl with him, both of which he thought were fantastic!  Based on my requirements, he is preparing a quotation for me that I should receive either Friday or Monday.  We also talked about lead times for set up and printing.  And, he gave me a great marketing idea for my Grand Opening (I'll keep this under wraps for now)!

From there, I strolled down the street and quickly found myself at the Flatiron Building, which I love.  I could take a field trip to NY just for the architecture but that wasn't why I was there so I didn't linger overly long.  I browsed a couple of boutiques and then set out to find lunch!

I didn't want to eat anywhere I could eat in the DC area and I really didn't want to eat at a lunch bar/buffet/deli type place.  In my strolling, I stumbled upon Beppe, a Tuscan restaurant. 

I had a fabulous salad and pasta prior to heading out to my next appointment in Tribeca at Nili Lotan.

We had a very good discussion regarding others selling the line in the DC area (one store in Georgetown sells the line but they did not think that would be an issue if I am located in Virginia as planned) and made plans with me to follow up with the wholesale contact.  It was great fun seeing their design/production process and was another excellent learning opportunity.

I had some time so I strolled the streets of Tribeca, popping in and out of various stores and boutiques.  I look at each with an eye for "what are they doing to draw in the customer and to get he/she to come back?"  Many of the stores had a very minimalist approach - some intentional (as part of their look) and others I believe had decided not to put money into a merchandising scheme.  They are depending on their product and location to be the draw and not focused on the experience.  And that's fine - it is just not what I want for Zoe.

I took a brief late afternoon break at an amazing bakeshop called Tribeca Treats.  It was phenomenal and they were super nice.  I had one of their "cookies of the day" - a lime shortbread and a cold ginger lemonade.  Total bliss!  I bought two more cookies to take home to Jim (and yes, they did make it all the way home and he took them with his lunch today!)  I highly recommend this as a stop over if you find yourself in New York!

Then it was back to Penn Station to take the train home.  Here, I'm standing with everyone, staring at the departure board to see what gate our train will be assigned at the station.  The minute a gate is identified for a departure, a mass exodus occurs!

An uneventful and quick train ride back to Union Station had me home shortly after 9.  Tired but exhilarated at the same time!  I loved my field trip and can't wait to go back!

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