Wall Street’s Pain Felt By North Jersey Retailers

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm

By Hugh R. Morley, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.

Jun. 8–Rick Breitstein has a small businessman’s eye for the economy and figures it curdled about a month ago.

That’s about the time his store, the Cheese Shop of Ridgewood, a purveyor of up-market dairy products to the village’s affluent, suffered a double-digit drop in business, he said.

Part of the problem, he said, is the economic woes of Ridgewood’s sizable pool of financial-services workers.

“I have customers that don’t come here anymore,” said Breitstein, surrounded by slabs of English Stilton and French Epoisse and Brillat-Savarin cheeses that sell for as much as $60 a pound.

“They are bond traders,” he said. “They are all suffering — They are not making the money.”

Breitstein is one of several Ridgewood storeowners who say they have felt the impact of the plummeting fortunes of the state’s financial industry on their own bottom line.

Experts say the industry’s loss of 4 percent of its workforce in the last 30 months is just the start as Wall Street firms carry out thousands of layoffs announced in recent months.

Financial job cuts in New York also hurt North Jersey because of the high volume of commuters. That’s especially true in Ridgewood, where the 2000 Census found one in six of the village’s employed residents worked in the financial-services sector.

Other North Jersey communities with sizable numbers of financial-services employees included Wyckoff, Wayne, Paterson, Clifton, Fort Lee and Edgewater, the Census reported.

The impact on Ridgewood offers a snapshot of the variety of ways that these communities are affected by the industry’s hard times.

A few blocks from Breitstein’s store, bagel maker Elliot Cohen said he has been seeing far fewer customers from the Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney offices on Ridgewood Avenue than in the past.

“We used to get breakfast and lunch deliveries there, and we’ve seen a lot less,” he said. “One guy used to buy breakfast for the whole group on Friday. He doesn’t come anymore.”

At Re/Max Properties of Ridgewood, Sal Poliandro said the changing fortunes of the financial sector are evident among his clientele. He sold a house for a man employed at UBS’s Weehawken office after that office downsized and he was moved to Charlotte, N.C. The company said in March it would lay off 14 employees at the office.

Another UBS employee, who recently moved from Virginia to work in the same UBS office, bought a $900,000 house with Poliandro’s help but is getting jittery about her job security, he said.

“I spoke to her and she is a little concerned,” he said. “But she is still working.”

Gary Sparker, a system designer at Sound View Electronics, which sells high-end video and sound equipment, said concern about the future among financial brokers is one reason the store’s business has been slow for about six months.

“I’ve had a few people say, ‘Let’s see what my bonus is like this year, and I’ll be back,’ ” he said. “People are more cautious with the decision-making.”


To see more of The Record, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.NorthJersey.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.

  1. The economy is one thing – but I wouldn’t shop there because the owner was so rude! Then again, I was only asking to purchase a very small order – maybe that had something to do with it. I wound up walking out.

  2. Can I please say ” You poor shoppers” ( NOT STORE OWNERS) You bond guys and traders and all your money, now know what most of us go through everyday. Get real and suck it up! Get rid of your gas hungry Hummers, do your own laundry ang get a feel what life really is about.
    Thanks PJ for making this post. I hope everyone who watches the blog get’s on the band wagon and speaks up.I know you are a financial man, but these poor cry baby’s need to suck it up, especially all the Ridgewood guy’s living off of Mom and Dad’s (REAL EARNED MONEY)not just given to them. Cry me a river

  3. I have never seen so many business locations empty in Ridgewood. From what I can gather, job losses haven’t really hit Ridgewood much yet, but there is definitely a fear of losing jobs, which keeps folks from spending. Home equity lines have been a massive source of expenditure these last few years, and with real estate values dropping, it’s no wonder that this has stopped.

  4. Really….and I’ve been told business is down because of a lack of parking.

    I guess I was misled.

  5. I heard it wasy high rents.

    I’ve never had a serious problem with parking.

  6. Are we still planning to build that garage, what with less driving and shopping? Think we can take a pass on that boondoggle.

  7. Many years ago when first moving into the Village I went to the Cheese Shop and ordered some particular cheese and was rudly told I was calling it by the wrong name by a bald headed clerk or owner. I have not been in the shop since.
    Now most supermarkets carry a large variety of cheese and I don’t have to put up with the backtalk.
    If you can’t find a cheese in a supermarket you will have to go to Corrado’sarket in Clifton, they have it all.

  8. Yes, the Frumunda and Tween cheeses are delectable!

  9. 5:19- that was probably the former owner. I always remembered the former staff as being friendly and helpful. I havent been there much recently but have been told that the new owner/workers are not as warm.

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