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Flushing Mall stores eye holidays to boost business

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Retailers at the Flushing Mall, one of downtown’s most ambitious development projects in recent years, report a slow summer and are counting on the holiday shopping season to boost sales.

The predominantly Asian mall, which opened in December, consists of some 60 stores that sell merchandise ranging from cell phones to jewelry to clothing. Located on 39th Avenue between Prince Street and College Point Boulevard, the mall also includes a gallery, a food court and an outdoor marketplace.

On Friday, a farmer’s market is slated to open in front of the mall.

While the mall’s services have continually expanded, business owners and managers said the hot summer, a traditionally weak sales period, has not been kind to them.

“At the beginning sales were more steady,” said Jenny, manager of the Shiseid Cosmetic Boutique. But in recent weeks, her store has averaged only about 20 customers a day.

“Right now it’s very slow,” she said.

Janice Chiang, who runs the Janice ID clothing shop, also said business was weak.

But Chiang said she has gotten by on 15 sales a day and could survive because rents were low compared to Main Street. She added the mall’s heavy advertising campaign was beginning to kick in.

“The mall is getting known,” she said. “Now everybody knows where it is.”

Chiang expects a deluge of customers during the holiday season

“Christmas, that’s the whole point,” she said. “Christmas is going to be really crowded. After all, this is the only Asian mall.”

Eunice Hong, manager of Hair Designers Beauty Salon, also was optimistic that business would pick up.

“I’m expecting a lot of customers at the end of this month because it’s back to school,” she said.

Nevertheless, Hong said a rebound in sales this fall would come too late for many shops, noting three stores had already gone out of business.

“There was a clothing store. The owner was Korean,” Hong said. “He told us business was so slow and he couldn’t maintain the shop, so he had to close.”

A TimesLedger columnist reported recently a Flushing Mall merchant intended to move to the new Flushing Expo mall planned for the old Caldor property just blocks away on Roosevelt Avenue off Main Street.

But John Chen, who is working on securing tenants for the Flushing Expo, said his development was not in competition with the Flushing Mall.

“We have not hurt their business,” he said.

Chen said he wanted the two developments to join forces to attract shoppers from outside the immediate downtown Flushing area.

“It would be better for us to work together, so we can make Flushing a place where people want to shop.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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