Yale Bulletin and Calendar

December 7, 2001Volume 30, Number 13

At the Holly and Ivy Market, Andrea Pizziconi (right) tries on a furred cape with the help of Sharon Baluta, owner of Puttin' on the Ritz, a Pennsylvania enterprise that sells vintage clothing.

Seasonal shopping market brings
retailers to 'shop' New Haven

By the time the Holly and Ivy Market at the Chapel Square Mall closes later this month, more area residents will have discovered that downtown New Haven is a great place to shop and more out-of-town retailers will have decided to add to that richness by making the Elm City their new home.

An upscale indoor bazaar that has been attracting crowds of shoppers to the former Yale Co-op space on weekends during this holiday season, the Holly and Ivy Market is sponsored by the City of New Haven, Town Green Special Services District and the funders of Market New Haven, Inc.

Much of the work of making the market a reality fell to two Yale alumni: Andrea Pizziconi '01, financial analyst for University Properties, which works with Yale's Office of New Haven and State Affairs; and Scott Healy '96, executive director of Town Green Special Services District.

The Holly and Ivy Market has its roots in the Dandelion Market, a gathering of outdoor vendors held Saturdays in September, explains Pizziconi, who helped organize the fall festival with Ashley Sheridan, owner of the local store Celtica, and others.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks closed most of the venues for New York's outdoor vendors, Pizziconi and Healy began receiving scores of phone calls from retailers who had heard about the New Haven festival and were eager to bring their wares to the Elm City.

"There was a huge lack of space for these exhibitors, as we call them -- meaning retailers, vendors," Pizziconi says. "This is their livelihood. They're the next generation of new retail. If they do well in these markets, they get stores. If those stores do well, they branch out."

After much thought, the two Yale graduates realized that creating a venue for these displaced vendors this winter could be "another reason to bring people downtown, especially for the holidays," says Pizziconi.

"But more importantly, it's a way to recruit retail to New Haven. It's a great opportunity to say 'Try us out for five weeks. If you like what you see -- the stores you see around you, the response you're getting from consumers -- let us show you some vacancies,' " she notes. The idea, she says, had the added advantage of making use of an empty space in a crucial corner of downtown.

Pizziconi and Healy approached Mayor John DeStefano Jr. with a proposal for the Holly and Ivy Market, and he enthusiastically endorsed the plan and made the needed space available, leaving them to select the vendors.

Of the nearly 50 exhibitors they recruited, about 40 are from Manhattan, including Thunder Bay Fine Furniture and Accessories, Ltd., My Little India Furniture, Insiders New York and Honore Collections. Other exhibitors hail from Boston, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The latter includes Judie's European Baked Goods from nearby Branford.

While the out-of-town merchants must pay to participate in the Holly and Ivy Market, local merchants can exhibit their wares and advertise their businesses in the space's large display windows free of charge. Music by local ensembles and works by local artists also add to the shopping experience.

"It's a win-win situation for local merchants and exhibitors," says Healy. "We're enticing shoppers and retailers into the city and encouraging them to take advantage of the wonderful boutiques, restaurants and nightlife New Haven offers year-round."

The Holly and Ivy Market will be open until Christmas Fridays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. On Saturdays, there is a special Kids Craft Corner from noon to 4 p.m.

Shopping for shops

While Pizziconi worked on the Holly and Ivy Market strictly as a consultant to the Town Green Special District, she has been helping to bring new retailers to the Elm City for several years now as a member of the staff of University Properties, which is closely affiliated with Yale's Office of New Haven and State Affairs.

A history major with a longstanding interest in urban development, Pizziconi began working for University Properties while she was still in her junior year. Her job then was to help identify potential businesses to bring to New Haven.

"Recruiting a business is a lot like shopping," she says. When searching for a 24-hour convenience store and deli for the Broadway area, for example, "we literally walked the streets of New York for days" before spotting Gourmet Heaven, which now has a satellite store in New Haven.

"My job as an undergrad was just to get the business owners to New Haven," she says. "Once they toured New Haven, they would see the potential here." Another of Pizziconi's "finds" was Alexia Crawford, a SoHo designer of unique handbags and jewelry that now has a satellite store on Broadway.

As a member of University Properties, Pizziconi is part of a tight-knit team that includes several other Yale alumni. Heading the team is Bruce Alexander '65, vice president and director of the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, who was responsible for such successful examples of urban revitalization as the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, Harborplace in Baltimore, Portland's Pioneer Place and the Riverwalk in New Orleans.

University Properties has 65 retail tenants, of which 5 are select national retailers and 60 are unique local merchants. Yale's retail strategy -- maintaining a small proportion of national retailers among its tenants -- is designed to support the City of New Haven and benefit existing local retailers by drawing new shoppers to the area, especially during the summer and holiday retail seasons when traditionally business declined because fewer University affiliates were in town. This strategy is proving successful, notes the Yale alumna, pointing out that Phil Cutler of the family-owned Cutler's Records reported he had the best summer sales ever.

Pizziconi's job is now devoted partly to "crunching numbers" to determine the best use of Yale-owned properties and what new resources are needed, and partly to finding the best businesses to fill those spaces. The University Properties team also works closely with the city government, business organizations and other partners in New Haven to fulfill the goal of "making New Haven a retail destination," she says.

In fact, if Yale can't provide what a business prospect needs, University Properties will often refer the owner to some other local resource. "Ultimately, we don't care if someone comes into our space or the property owner next to us or down the street, as long as they come -- as long as great stores are coming to New Haven and adding to the great mix we already have," Pizziconi continues.

Despite the success of the Broadway redevelopment effort and the work underway at the Ninth Square district, "I don't think the Yale community realizes it, but Yale is doing some of the most innovative and aggressive development projects among universities throughout the country," says Pizziconi.

"I can't wait to see what unfolds in New Haven in the next few years."

-- By LuAnn Bishop


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