How can Hoboken keep local businesses?

Letter: Hard to compete for small businesses

We recently mentioned that kids store Bellie & Katrina was moving out of their 4th Street location at the end of this month. We originally speculated that they might be moving elsewhere in Hoboken (as we hadn’t heard back from them at the time). But Bellie & Katrina owner Maria recently sent this message:

Hoboken small business closed“I am sad to say I have decided to close up shop.

As you know, I have been an established business in the Hoboken community for the past 13 years. During this time I feel that the retail environment in Hoboken has changed so much. As the big businesses continue to move into town, it is becoming harder for small businesses to compete. I’ve also noticed that the buying habits of shoppers have changed.

As online shopping becomes more and more popular, it has become harder to justify the overhead small stores like Bellie & Katrina have to incur

My little store has been a labor of love and I have met so many wonderful families that I will miss dearly. I hope my customers will continue to follow Bellie & Katrina online at as well as on social media.

Thank you, and I thank all the lovely Hoboken families for all their loyalty and support thru the years.”

“Shop Local” in Hoboken – but do you really? Where do you draw the line?

I found this whole predicament to be an interesting quagmire to be in.

What is it?

  1. Saving money by shopping online (more for the family)
  2. Supporting local businesses (have less “stuff,” but maintain character of neighborhood?)

My guess is that each individual, once they know they can get most products substantially cheaper online – find it hard to justify continuing to pay much more locally. Sure, when you’re in a pinch (or it’s a matter of convenience) – but I’d suspect it’s not the norm.

But would people be willing to have less items – in exchange for supporting a real local business?

Like instead of 10 baby outfits – you can get eight or nine for the same money – but keep the big, bad corporations out of Hoboken?

Maybe it’s time someone did some hard-core number crunching to truly see what it would take to keep and maintain the “mom and pop” shops in town.

I wonder how much extra profit would have kept a place like Bellie & Katrina open instead of closing up. And equally important are retail rents. Because those property owners are essentially “small businesses” too.

Who wins, who loses? Should we care what “the market” dictates? Are the customers themselves to blame?

Or are retail “stores” with heavy overhead just “done” and we can blame technology and the “1%’ers?”

A tricky web to spin, that’s for sure, because everyone has a different answer.

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Might be a little off topic, but with the closure of West Five on Fifth and Madison, the owners should look into putting a Barcade in the empty space (an establishment that serves food and drinks but has old arcade games throughout). Barcade in Jersey City is a fun experience and would definitely be a draw in Hoboken.


It will come full circle eventually. Once a product or industry becomes a commodity, harder for small shops to compete on price. But something new will take it’s place.