WESTFIELD, NJ - For reasons as various as the products sold, Westfield merchants moved their summer sales outside among the swarms of people buzzing about the warm weather and hot deals.
“It’s more than just sales. It’s a lot of fun,” said Dr. Ted Schlosberg, founder and executive director of New Jersey Workshop for the Arts. “It’s great being outside and getting to talk to people. I never know who I am going to meet or what is going to transpire.”
Although NJ Workshop for the Arts has given lessons and sold instruments out of its East Broad street store for over forty years, last week was the first time it participated in the annual downtown Westfield Sidewalk Sale.
“It really helped us to turn over our inventory,” Schlosberg said. “I thought if other stores can to it with clothes, then we can do it with instruments and lessons.”
With the majority of the event held outside, the Sidewalk Sale attracts a multitude of shoppers each July who enjoy strolling the streets of Westfield looking for a bargain, or those who come to watch Jiji the clow or Joe the juggler. During the four days that the sale takes place merchants are given permission to display their product on the sidewalk. Mainly discounted items are set out in an attempt to move summer product in preparation for incoming fall inventory. This year the Sidewalk Sale took place over the past four days, Thursday thru Sunday.
On Sunday Schlosberg wore a white brimmed cap pulled slightly over his large dark sunglasses as he sat atop a stool outside his shop organizing pamphlets among various instruments scattered on the makeshift table. Jazz music poured from the store’s open windows enticing passing consumers.
“One guy stopped and bought a mini trumpet we had on the table,” Schlosberg said. “We got to talking and I learned he had played since high school so I invited him to join our band in October. Another couple walking by told me they were only here for the summer. When they saw the pamphlets that had information on our summer classes they signed up. Now when they go home to South America in the fall they will know how to play an instrument.”
While Schlosberg enjoyed the summer air and company provided by the sale, Studio S’s manager Mary Rose Sherry found a different perk from participating in the event.
“When we opened the first week in June it was hard to get people in here,” she said. “We sell discounted designer clothes and everyone thought we were a consignment shop. But this opened up the door for people to see what we have. So many people downtown have been coming in and I think people have a different view of us now and it will help generate more traffic.”
However, stores participating in the Sidewalk Sale for the first time weren’t the only ones who benefited. Maryann Waxtel, the manager at Williams Sonoma, said over the past 11 years they typically see their sales double, and occasionally triple, over the four day period.
“It runs in conjunction will our nationwide summer sale, but our Westfield store always gets more customer attention,” Waxtel said. “The fact that people come to the Sidewalk Sale from all over because so many stores participate helps to ensure we have a solid payroll and opportunity for our employees to work.”
Westfield resident Trish Scott was one of many walking along East Broad with a green and white Williams Sonoma paper bag hung amongst a handful of purchases.
“I wasn’t planing on stopping at Williams Sonoma,” Scott said. “I came to town to pick up a pair of shoes being fixed at American Shoe Repair, but when I walked by I saw the sales so I stopped by and ended up getting great deals at great prices.”
The owner of American Shoe Repair, Manny Sa, has been participating in the Sidewalk Sale the past 20 years because Scott is not an exception among the consumers. Sa put four clothing racks and two tables outside of his East Broad street store.
“People look and see the stuff outside and like it,” Sa said. “It’s a good thing to do every year, it brings a lot of traffic to the town and helps me clear out some clothing.”