Artwork orange boosts biz in North Riverdale



Elisa Contemporary Art, a small gallery on Mosholu Avenue, abounds with color and glimmering brightness, contrasting a long, cold winter.

Orange!, an exhibition that premiered on March 18, features art curated around the mood-boosting hue, which is splashed across canvases to create abstract textures and patterns. On opening day, a table was adorned with orange frosted cupcakes from Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, an acclaimed bakery that will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Riverdale next month. An assortment of bottles with orange labels from Skyview Wine and Spirits and orange dog sweaters from Capipets, a local dog-grooming business, were also on show.

The exhibition not only signifies the advent of spring. It is an effort to unify business owners and attract customers to their shops. Through the North Riverdale Merchants Association, gallery owner Lisa Cooper reached out to some local business owners and asked them to offer discounts on orange items sold at their stores.

The pieces on display represented some of the advertised discounts. Promotions include 10 percent off all orange-labeled wines and liquors at Skyview Wine and Spirits, 20 percent off all dog apparel at Capipets and 15 percent off pastries at Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, among other deals on offer until the exhibition ends on Saturday, April 16.

The cross-promotional exhibition and store discounts are a good way to boost the profile of Riverdale’s small businesses, since residents often overlook them, said Vivian Rivas, co-owner of Capipets, located on Mosholu Avenue near Elisa Contemporary Art.

Gary Wartels, owner of Skyview Wine and Spirits, said local stores can use whatever help they can get these days.

“Businesses right now are under a lot of pressure from big box retailers,” he said.

Tracy Shelton, executive director of the Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation, worked with state Sen. Jeff Klein’s office to organize the North Riverdale Merchants Association late last year. The group was created to unify small businesses for their mutual benefit.

“Anytime you bring any group together, there’s more power in that, there’s more strength in that,” Ms. Shelton said.

Even businesses that have been in Riverdale for more than 20 years have felt the effects of the economic recession, Maria Khury, chair of the Community Board 8’s Economic Development Committee, said.

Ms. Khury, who also owns a travel agency on West 231st Street, said rising rental costs, taxes and expenses have even caused businesses with the most success to worry.

“We all know that there is power in numbers,” she said. “So when they come together as one … they have a voice, where individually they’re not going to have that.”

When art and economic development come together, it looks like Orange!

“It’s a nice opportunity to work together and cross promote,” Ms. Cooper said. “I feel like it’s a win-win.”