Dressmaking in the Recession: The Story of Mary Adams

Mary Adams is a dressmaker who combines retro fashions and whimsical colors to create customized party and bridal dresses. She’s also dressed celebrities like Amy Sedaris, who wore her dress during an appearance on the David Letterman show.

But like many small businesses, she has not been immune to the recession.  During the spring of 2008, she closed down her shop (of 24 years) on Ludlow Street due to increasingly high rents, moving her business to tiny studio in Murray Hill.

Despite the hardships, Mary is going forward, and relying on social networking as modern window displays to attract customers. She has launched her own website, started a blog, and created a facebook page.

Last month, she released her first book. Titled The Party Dress Book, it chronicles her career, inspirations, and techniques.

As a model tries on her unique pieces, Mary discusses her love of fashion and the future.

Posted in Dresses, dressmaking, fashion, Mary Adams, New York, Recession, Small Business | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Buzz-A-Rama: Slot Car Racing in Brooklyn

Once upon a time, before video games and the internet, Buzz Perry opened his slot car racing shop Buzz-A-Rama in Kensington, Brooklyn. That was 45 years ago and Buzz-A-Rama is still attracting generations of New Yorkers to its raceways every weekend. You pay a few dollars for a car, plug in the controller and compete with the 5th grader standing next to you or the grandfather who has been a regular at the shop for the last 40 years.

Perry has made a home for a hobby on the brink of extinction and a place for  New Yorkers  to gather for wholesome fun and nostalgia.

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Times Square Stood Still as Anti-War Protesters Layed Down

On December 16th, anti-war protesters marched on Washington DC to protest the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their protests were organized by Veterans for Peace, which coordinated several other demonstrations at major cities around the United States on the same day.

The protesters planned civil disobedience at major public venues. In New York, they congregated in front of the Times Square Military Recruitment Center at 44th Street and Broadway. Protesters ranged from 80 year old grandmother to Iraq war veterans in their 20′s.

After a picket march singing songs for peace, protesters stood in the street arm in arm. They brought traffic to a halt and sprung the NYPD into action. Several of the protesters were arrested, many of them in their 60′s and 70′s. But each said it was worth it because this was for something in which they deeply believe.

In their words, “the wars must end and our troops must come home.”

What do you think of the current United States policies regarding the Afghanistan and Iraq wars?

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Social media brings Harlem bakery back into business

A native of South Carolina, Alvin Lee Smalls bakes some of New York City’s finest rugelach, heralded by the New York Times as “buttery, magnificent and fleeting.”

Small businesses may have permanently closed shop during the recession, but not Lee Lee’s Baked Goods. When Lee’s bakery went out of business, his loyal customers took to social media to put out a call for help and drum up support.

The response, according to Lee, was overwhelming.

Two weeks later, Lee Lee’s Baked Goods opened its doors once again, with a new business plan, new offerings and new customers.

How do you utilize social media?

Posted in Bakery, Dessert, food, Harlem, Rugelach, Small Business | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Non-Traditional Santa Claus Brings Joy (And Sometimes Tears) To Toddlers

Erica G. thinks that it’s time women have a bigger role in Christmas than that of ‘Mrs. Claus’.

For the past three years, she has played Santa Claus at Still Hip, a neighborhood toy and clothes store in Brooklyn. Her gender isn’t an obstacle – the children don’t notice and the parents “think it’s cool.” The true obstacle is the beard – the kids are terrified of it! But Erica has certain strategies to disarm her young visitors, but sometimes a hug from Mom and Dad is the only thing that will stop the tears.

Were you afraid of Santa when you were young?

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A Canarsie Christmas Tradition

The christmas display at 9306 Flatlands has been a Canarsie tradition since 1963.

When former Surrogate’s Court judge and assemblyman Frank Seddio bought the house 24 years ago, he continued the tradition but never imagined “it would get this big.”

Have you ever visited the Seddio christmas display?

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Cecile Goyette: Caring for Cats in Harlem

When Cecile Goyette moved to Harlem and discovered a colony of feral cats, she decided to get involved in the New York City animal rescue community.

Goyette cares for the colony, which lives in a community garden behind her apartment. She now provides shelter, food, and medical care to about 15 cats.

Almost 30 cats lived there originally. Goyette trapped them, had them neutered or spayed, and released the feral or semi-feral cats back into the garden–a process known as Trap-Neuter-Return. All of the friendly cats, and all of the kittens, were adopted.

Goyette traps cats all over the city, and does private and pet store-hosted adoptions at Pet Stop on the Upper West Side.

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The Partnership with Children’s Eighth Annual Wrap-A-Thon

A group of employees from Bloomberg L.P. gathered downtown this morning to volunteer in the eighth annual Wrap-A-Thon.

Sponsored by the Partnership with Children, a social service agency for New York City youth, the group wrapped holiday presents donated by Gymboree, Hasbro, and NBC, which will soon be delivered to public schools around the city.

The gifts are not meant for all students. Rather, students living at or below the federal poverty level will receive them. This way, they can experience the thrill of receiving gifts during the holiday season, said Liz Roy, a spokesperson for the Partnership with Children.

Here are some photos from the day.

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Holidays at the Toy Store

Nestled between 72nd and 73rd Sts. on Lexington Ave. is New York’s oldest continuously operating toy store, Mary Arnold Toys. This mom and pop gem carries everything from Madame Alexander dolls to plastic army men and has been serving families for generations.

Store owner Ezra Ishayik, 70, and his daughter Judy, the current vice president, are stocking up for another great holiday season to serve families and friends with gifts.

Where do you like to shop for holiday gifts?

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Young Athlete Leaves Gym for Playgrounds, Parks and Pumpkins

Fed up with the rules and regulations of corporate gyms, John Sutton decided he wanted to embrace a new venue – an urban one. Yearning for the ability to exercise without time restrictions, and without having to wait for a machine, John turned to the great outdoors. These days he runs through the woods and over rocks rather than on a treadmill. With his unorthodox strength building techniques, John said he’s packed on mass and has surpassed his expectations.

So do you think it’s time you to embrace your urban side?

Posted in Exercise, New York, Outdoors, Running, Urban | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments