UWS Photo Store Grows Despite Lower Subway Foot Traffic
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — In late 2019, Kim Duncan thought opening a photo and wall decor store near the 1,2 and 3 subway lines on 96th Street and Broadway would be a slam dunk. But, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked New York City three months after Goldenlight Visions opened their doors.
“We chose this location, especially for being right by an express stop,” said Duncan on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank. “We always wanted to be able to service all of Manhattan.”
She told WCBS 880 in June 2021 she remained hopeful that people would return to offices full-time. By the fall of 2021, it became apparent that remote and hybrid work would keep subway ridership below pre-pandemic levels. The MTA reported about 72 percent of riders have returned underground as of October 9. Before September, fewer than 63 percent of riders returned to the rails.
“Part of our business here is our windows that show all the things that we can do and we put a lot of beautiful work into making our windows inviting because that was our plan,” said Duncan of the foot traffic potential.
The resilient small business owner found new ways to grow as the city struggled to recover.
“So, they come hearing from a friend, and I’ll tell you, they would be like, ‘Wow, you know, I don’t walk around as much, or I don’t usually come out after dark,'” said Duncan. “Thankfully, people have had a great experience here and they’ve told people.”
She said crime continues to be an issue for her Upper West Side community, but she credits NYPD officers with the 24th precinct for adding a sense of security on her block.
“They have been very helpful in walking by, giving a presence, making sure that they’re on Broadway and making things feel safe for people.”
Goldenlight Visions has been able to hire two additional employees to help her and her life and business partner Bretton May sell more products. Custom framing is their most popular service.
See this Small Business Spotlight survival update on the video above.