Bedford Street is the Place to Be

Bedford Street has seen businesses come and go as it has grown into a hotspot for people to gather for conversation, drinks and good food.

But another type of business is shouldering its way onto the district.

Operators of sports shops and fitness centers believe that many of the clientele at those bars and restaurants are prime targets for theirĀ  businesses.

Bedford Street offers a variety of choices including Fleet Foot Sports, Downtown Golf, Pedigree Ski & Tennis and Ocean Blue Dive Shop – the newest arrival.

And seeing the influx of these stores, real estate brokers representing commercial buildings along the streetĀ  think there is room for more, including businesses providing fitness opportunities.

Norman Lotstein, a broker with Pyramid Commercial Real Estate, is marketing lower level
space at 135 and 189 Bedford St., hoping to find tenants wanting to open yoga, Pilates or other fitness programs.
“It’s a recommendation by us at Pyramid to the landlords,” said Lotstein, a longtime player in the Stamford retail property scene. “All landlords try to put on complementary uses. It’s good for landlords and tenants.”
Lotstein, who is representing 4,325 square feet at 189 Bedford St., and 3,478 square feet at 135 Bedford St., said the lower level space is ideal for such uses.

Kaplan Tutoring formerly occupied 189 Bedford St., while Goodway Printing was a tenant at 135 Bedford St.
The mix of activity in the neighborhood and it’s busy nightlife impresses Lotstein, enthused about the potential for the spaces he represents.

“This block is the most vibrant in Stamford’s downtown,” he said. “It has on-street parking, the Bedford Street Garage with 550 spaces and spaces of surface parking.”

That’s one of the things that enticed Paul Ferrone, owner of Downtown Golf, to a 1,500-square-foot space at 125 Bedford St., nine years ago.

Ferrone, who received a $50,000 grant from the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, can be considered a pioneer in the renewal of the street.
“When I got here, many of the restaurant spaces were empty,” he said, “but if you have a good product they come to you. Lorca coffee shop is busier than a Starbucks.”
Ferrone has experienced that same success at his shop, which has been highly rated by Golf Digest for its equipment selection.

The popularity of the restaurants and bars has benefited Ferrone’s business, which also does club repairs.
“These restaurants are crowded, and when they (patrons) look out the window, they see me,” he said.
Michael Feld’s Ocean Blue Dive Shop is the newest sports store arrival along the street.
Feld, who bought the business in 2013, moved it from Rex Marine in Norwalk on
Sunday (May 15).

“A year ago, I started looking,” Feld said. “When I drove into Stamford and onto Bedford Street I said this is where it happens. I went to the DSSD website. I saw the demographics and decided this is the place to be.”
The 1,650-square-foot space is ideally located, he said, recalling a recent night when a long line of millennial-age people were standing in line at midnight to get into nearby Brother Jimmy’s restaurant.
A young woman who was standing in line excitedly took his card after he told her that he was opening a scuba shop.
The experience reinforced his decision to make the move.

“There is no foot traffic here,” Feld said, referring to the Norwalk location. “My moving here has formed a critical mass (of sports shops).”

Noting that the Bedford Street bars and restaurants attract throngs of millennial-age patrons, Sandy Goldstein, president of the Downtown Special Services District, said attracting exercise-related businesses is a logical strategy for Pyramid.

“People who go to these classes are the millennials who would go to nearby restaurants. They’ll say I’m coming back here tonight,” Goldstein said, commenting that it is a good approach for space that is questionable for retail uses.
The DSSD works closely with business owners, providing them with data they can use to improve their operations, as well as promoting the district as a “happening place,” Goldstein said.