"Heart Hoboken" Campaign Hopes To Stir Local Business

Is it too late for an ad campaign to save the holidays for Hoboken businesses?

If you ask Tim Cochrane how business is going at his hot dog joint The WindMill on Hudson Street, he's got one word for it: "horrible!"

Cochrane and his business partner Roger Corrado opened the Hoboken location of the Jersey shore franchise in June. Just a stone's throw from the PATH station and surrounded by several popular bars, Cochrane says they were starting to build up a good business.

"We're a late night place. Two a.m., you couldn't get in the door," he said. "Now, there's nobody."

Since the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy knocked out PATH service from Hoboken, Cochrane says business is down 60 percent. He also had to cut his staff to just three employees, putting several local college students out of a job.

In the meantime, Cochrane has his own problems to deal with, having lost his home on Breezy Point, Queens.

"God has an interesting sense of humor," he said.

Other business owners in Hoboken are taking a similar hit this holiday season. They say customers who are recovering from damage to their own homes and businesses don't have the money to shop, and the out-of-towners can't get here on limited public transportation.

Some members of the Hoboken City Council believe the city is suffering from bad press from Sandy's aftermath and its reputation for limited parking.

Small Business Saturday, American Express' local sequel to Black Friday, failed to change the situation for many business owners.

The Hoboken Chamber of Commerce launched a new ad campaign Friday in hopes of changing these downward trends.

"Heart Hoboken? Let's Keep the Charm."

That's the slogan that will appear on street signs, ads, and social media. The $10,000 "media blitz," as Chamber President Greg Dell'Aquila called it, will also feature commercials with "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro and other local celebrities.

If that amount seems low, that's because many of the related services, including a public relations firm to get the word out, have been donated to the cause.

Dell'Aquila thinks Hoboken businesses suffered from a lack of promotion even before Hurricane Sandy. He hopes this will not only rouse them from this slump, but let shoppers know the city is open for business.

Joe Mindak of creative firm Tisha Creative helped design the campaign. He said he was inspired by the reaction he gets when people find out he lives in Hoboken.

But already one week into December, is it too late for an ad campaign to save the holidays for Hoboken businesses?

"It's late for the immediate relief, but we're putting a sustainable campaign out there," Mindak said.

"It took a lot of effort and a lot of collected minds to come up with a campaign that is not just for the holiday season, but will continue," said Dell'Aquila.

PATH service to Midtown Mahattan, including nearby Newport, will be suspended for the next two weekends in order to speed up full restoration, according to the Port Authority.

Cochrane said he's still optimistic, greeting customers by name as he pours over insurance forms in his office. The chain will be closed for Christmas Day when he says he will be counting his blessings with his family around him. But he also has this message:

"Go out of your way to support a local business."

Jabberwock December 07, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I like the Hoboken ain't Broken, but the charm left the city a long time ago - not much other than franchises & real estate agencies left in town. That doesn't mean I don't feel bad for the businesses, I shop local for anything that I possibly can, but I won't shed a tear if some of the realtors disappear, we don't need so many.
PeoplePlease December 07, 2012 at 10:39 PM
It's not too late but any sort of campaign will need a lot of frequency, fast. This means a TV/Radio only campaign. Print does not build frequency.
David A. Liebler December 07, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Is this for real? "let's keep the charm", why not just say, we are out of business, stay away for another month?" Come on people!!!!!!!!!! Potential top ten list anyone?...... 10. It rained, we flooded, we are back in business. 9. The water is back in the river, it's safe to visit again 8. We lost 50% of our businesses, but the other 50% are open 7. 86 bars, most are OPEN! 6. You don't need a canoe any longer 5. All seafood is fresh, stop in 4. There's no more car jacks or buglers anymore 3. Boat bar crawls everyday 2. The army left, we are open and #1`.......come on people help me!!!
FAP December 07, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Until the PATH is back online business is unlikely to pickup. I'm sorry it's not the message or the product that is the problem it's the accessibility.
PeoplePlease December 08, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Just throwing this thought out there - if Hoboken has a "bad rap" due to parking and Sandy,,,,exactly what "charm" is there to keep? The message should be Open For Business, with a strong push to web. The site should feature local retail and hospitality. I think its in the best interest of Hoboken if realtors put up $$ but take a back seat to this promotion for now.
recallbethmason December 08, 2012 at 04:05 AM
I find it somewhat comical (and sad) that the owner of windmill is complaining about his situation? Seriously? If you provided good service people would come but guess what you didn't! I was there with my family the first week you opened...you and your friends were standing around laughing it up while we stood there waiting to be served. We waited 15?minutes and there were like 10 employees with windmill shirts but no one willing to take our order? So I took my upset children away and found somewhere else to eat and we will never, ever return to your establishment again. Sorry to hear things are so bad for you but customer service should have been your number one priority and you blew it!
Ojo Rojo December 08, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Well the chamber of commerce better get off their rear ends and work on putting together some funding for their TV campaign. The city has nothing in the budget for a TV campaign and a multimillion dollar cleanup bill to pay already. And with the minority objecting to just about everything, don't expect them to help.
mcgato December 08, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Re: 4. There's no more car jacks or buglers anymore Thank god the buglers are gone.
Ojo Rojo December 08, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Why should I help you? I don't get paid to promote businesses. That is how you make a living. Go get some clients to pay you to do it and do it already. Quit your whining. Nobody feels like paying more in taxes so you can get some fancy TV ads. You want ads, you go find a way to pay for them like in other communities. Oh, and have fun at that fun event out of town so Mason can get her photo op. Great job there of patronizing local businesses by you and our city councilwoman. And so nice of her to offer her assistance to so many communities outside of Hoboken even though all those communities but Hoboken pretty much were damage free. Funny how the list of communities she is seeking to help match exactly w/ a certain state legislator's district but I am sure that is just a coincidence.
johnozed December 08, 2012 at 03:52 PM
There are still plenty of independent shops that are deserving of patronage. SOme of them helped out considerably during the blackout week. And as for charm, saying that charm has left the city negates the fact that Old & New Hoboken came together and helped each other out. Charm depends on you, whether out on the street, shopping or sitting in front of a computer.
Maureen Volkert December 08, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Well, if you had more stores that the poorer people could buy from you might have someone doing business. Not everyone in Hoboken can afford a dress for $150. to $200. dollars, not everyone can afford $400. for a bag, we all don't need to have designer bags, clothes, shoes, with the rent we pay and the food costs rising there is not much money left for buying another Condo, a $500 - $1,000. bracelet or earrings, most of the residents of Hoboken that used to buy in the stores we had on Washington Street back 15-20 years ago can't afford buying from the stores you have now, which are very few and really expensive. we even lost our Burlington, which was the last place most of us could afford. Take away some of the real estate offices and put up a Variety Store that people could walk around in and maybe spend $50. or $100. You cannot rely on the 20 year olds anymore, they can't get here and most of them all they did was drink and then go have breakfast and coffee before they started home. I bet their towns have a few stores on a Main Street that they buy from. Wake Up, you turned this into a party town and now You want to make it a family town where people spend their money to buy from stores we don't have anymore and they go outside of Hoboken in neighboring cities to shop. WHERE DID HOBOKEN GO WRONG?????
PeoplePlease December 08, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Mo has some good points
Rory Chadwick December 09, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Maureen, unfortunately lots of the landlords have forced the retail hand in to charging higher costs for more of a unique item. The stores on Washington St 20 years ago did not have the same rent vs profits comparison. 20 years ago, in 1992, rent for a store that is now $6000 to rent was $500. You could sell shirts for $3 and have dollar stores. Once the landlords saw the potential the prices went up, naturally did the price and quality of items people sell to cover the rent and employees. Unfortunately, the stores of yesteryear would never survive today. If you want more inexpensive stores tell the landlords to stop charging high rents.
Windmill HOBOKEN December 10, 2012 at 02:37 AM
At Windmill the customer is always our top priority! With 9 successful stores since 1964 we must be treating our customers decent. It sounds like you came in to a private family and friends party and I am sorry that you and your kids didn't get a chance to try our food. If you would like to come back just ask for the owners and it will be our treat. Thanks
Outofcontrol December 11, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Small businesses need to look at the business climate before they agree to pay the ridiculous rents that they are paying in this town. They shouldn't expect the consumer to carry the cost of what is ultimately a bad business decision. Small businesses need to stop paying rents that cannot be sustained in a place like Hoboken. You can try to blame Sandy or the recession or whatever other excuses you can come up with, but the bottom line is that a savvy consumer is not going to subsidize bad investments. Catchy sales pitches aren't going to do much, but make Hoboken shopping more affordable and you might just see more profit.


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