As the New York Yankees geared up for their season opener in Tampa, about 1000 miles away local Bronx businesses along 161st Street geared up for what they hope is a season of profit.
On Thursday, April 5, several stores, including the D&J Variety Store on 64 East 161st Street were abuzz with a couple of “Jeter-Bugs” who helped kick off Cap Week, a week long event leading into tomorrow’s season home opener for the Bombers.
Sponsored by the 161st Business Improvement District, Cap Week promotes local businesses that line up 161st Street and River Avenue–the mecca of all things Yankees. Participating stores like Home Base, Pinstripe, S&A, Jeans Plus, Stadium Souvenirs and Stan’s Sportworld offered discounts on merchandise for the whole week. To draw in more customers, Cap Week gave away an official Yankees cap to every 50th customer who bought a hat from participating stores, a $20 savings, courtesy of the 161st BID.
“What we’re trying to do here is help the businesses, and the team and the neighborhood all sort of come together to help celebrate the start of a new season,” said Dr. Cary Goodman, executive director of the 161st BID, who spread the word with the help of dozens of pre-K students from the Highbridge Head Start Program. Late in the morning, the tiny cheerleaders dropped by several stores and sang baseball-themed songs to let passerbys know the Yankee season is upon us.
“We recently participated in the ‘Jeter-Meter’ and the ‘Jeter-Bug’,” said Pete Fortes, Family Services coordinator for the Highbridge Head Start Program, who led a sing-a-long of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
Mike Hong, owner of D&J Variety Store, smiled as he saw the kids boosting Yankees morale in front of his store. He said the best time to really catch the spirit is the days leading up to Yankee season, culminating with the the home opener.
“Some people don’t even have tickets, they just come, sit down and have a drink,” said Hong, who hopes the BID’s promotional giveaway will cause a spike in business.
“Anything that says ‘Yankees’ will sell,” boasted Hong. His tight store includes items like garden tools and a solar-powered lantern slapped with a Yankees emblem.
The 161st BID, established in 2009, is unlike the other BIDs around the Bronx in that it shares a symbiotic relationship with the Yankees.
“Seasonal businesses depend on the rhythm the Yankees create,” said Dr. Goodman.
The home opener for the Bronx Bombers is tomorrow, April 13 against the Los Angeles Angels.
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