Monthly Archives: November 2013

New guide to East Village shops now available

I remember moving in to the East Village shortly after Kmart moved in to Astor Place and many people were still unhappy about it. The East Village has long been known for it’s small shops and businesses. It’s not made up of the chain stores you’ll find throughout much if the U.S.

A new “Guide to East Village Local Shops” has been compiled by the the East Village Community Coalition. It is the seventh edition of the EVCC’s Get Local! Guide to locally owned and operated stores. The EVCC has produced this guide for the purpose of bringing attention to the importance of spending money locally by avoiding franchises, chain stores and the big-box retailers.

The updated guide is now available online and in stores.

Is renter’s insurance right for you?

Following is a brief excerpt from an article written by V. L. Hendrickson for BrickUnderground. It provides renters with a good overview as to whether renter’s insurance would be a worthwhile investment. For home sharers, this may be worth exploring.

According to police estimates, at least half of New York City renters don’t have renter’s insurance. If that includes you, maybe you’re betting that nothing’s going to happen. Or you think that if there’s a flood or a fire, the building will reimburse you for your flat screen television and designer shoe collection.

Um, not so much. Your building won’t fork over a dime for your lost property.

“Denial is not a good thing when it comes to insurance,” says Rick Bingham, a manager at the Manhattan insurance brokerage Kornreich-NIA, Inc.

Agents recommend at least a basic policy to cover what you own – unless, of course, you think it would be no problem to replace it all in case of a disaster. And even if you think your possessions are not that valuable, all those clothes, furniture, electronics, and other personal items can really add up.

“People typically undervalue their possessions,” Bingham says. “But if the whole building goes up in flames, you need to think of things in terms of replacement costs.”

To read the full article, visit BrickUnderground.

Tips for better hosting from a pair of Airbnb junkies

The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in BrickUnderground and was written by Michelle Slade, who is a freelance copywriter and editor. She’s the author of “Airbnb Pro” – a guidebook full of tips and techniques to help you find the best Airbnb accommodation at the best prices. She also blogs at makingitanywhere.com. These tips were specifically written for Airbnb hosts.

1. Respond to reservation requests speedily. Hosts in all other cities respond on time — and they do so politely. You, on the other hand, take about three weeks to message back with “mayb.ill think bout it an let u no.”

2. Don’t be mean when it comes to using your air conditioning in the summer. I’m talking to you, host #1 who emailed us daily to check on our a/c use, and you, host #2 who had post-its all over the walls reminding us to keep it off unless strictly necessary. It’s 100 fricking degrees outside; it’s necessary, okay?

3. Warn us that if we turn on the TV while drying our hair, the fuse will go (and of course, there’s no access to the fuse box because it’s behind three locked doors in the basement). 43.

4. Be honest about just how many stairs we’ll have to climb to reach your apartment. When we’re lugging around two suitcases, a kettle and a microwave (yes, we really did that), six flights isn’t “just a short walk up.” Normal people might not have so much random luggage, but they might have a knee problem or a fear of heights… or something.

5. Leave us a smidgen of storage space for our stuff — even if it’s just a collapsible clothes rail that you bring out when guests stay. When we’re staying in a shoebox and we have to store our clothes on the floor, arguments about “foot sweat marks” ensue.

6. Provide us with basic instructions for the apartment, so that we don’t end up hassling you with phone calls. For example, tell us any strategies for opening the front door if it has a particularly cumbersome lock. Let us in on the wifi password. And inform us where our trash should go on the street (it’s not always obvious).

7. Don’t be afraid to e-mail/phone and make sure everything’s going well. Airbnb is different from hotels: it’s meant to create a sense of community and reciprocity. We won’t feel harassed if you check in with us — and we understand that you’ll be a bit worried about leaving your apartment with strangers.

8. Don’t leave embarrassing medication in your bathroom cabinet: we end up wasting a lot of time hypothesizing about what could have possibly led to your “condition.”

Being an Airbnb Landlord Isn’t For Everyone

The following is an excerpt from an article by Mike Akerly, who is a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blog VillageConfidential.

by Mike Akerly | 8/16/12 – 2:49 PM

BrickUnderground

Q. I am a small landlord with a couple of condos in Manhattan. I am considering turning one or both of my properties into short-term rentals and rent them out through Airbnb.com and VRBO.com. From what I can tell, I can collect more rent this way than if they are simply rented out on long-term leases.

What issues should I be aware of before getting started?

A. Short-term rentals can be highly profitable but they are management intensive and, for this and a variety of other reasons, may not be the best choice for an NYC condo owner.

For instance, most condo bylaws have restrictions on the type of leases that can be entered into. It is common for the bylaws to restrict lease terms to no less than one year, though some condos have adopted more lenient rental policies by permitting three to six month leases. It is very unlikely that you would be permitted to rent the unit for a term shorter than three months.

Also remember that the condominium has a right of first refusal in the event that you choose to rent or sell the apartment. That means that after you enter into a lease, you must submit it and an application from the prospective renter to the board, which will have a legal right to rent the property in place of your prospective tenant.

Read the entire article here.

Get some holiday cheer — for less!

What’s better than offering guests a little holiday cheer in the form of significant discounts on some holiday-oriented shows and musicals.

Many of these are now available via Goldstar, including Breakfast with Santa & a Play: 27 Santas and an Elf Called Kevin. This show features a host of seasonal stories as well as music highlighting Kevin and the elves as they try to save Christmas from Santa’s evil twin.

Here’s a more extensive list of Goldstar‘s holiday offerings:

Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate!

It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends! Join Mickey and Minnie Mouse as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter, a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with Disney Princesses including Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana and a Hawaiian luau with Lilo & Stitch. You’ll also experience a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear, a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains and more in this magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivities from around the globe. Come join the party as Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! brings its show to IZOD Center.

Breakfast with Santa & a Play: 27 Santas and an Elf Called Kevin

Give your child a unique dose of holiday fun — breakfast with Santa Claus. You’ll enjoy a continental buffet with juices and coffee while Santa sings holiday carols and reads seasonal stories, including “The Night Before Christmas.” After breakfast, Santa and his elves will star in the world premiere of 27 Santas and an Elf Called Kevin. This original story with music about Kevin and the elves as they try to save Santa and Christmas from a gang that includes Santa’s evil twin brother is sure to be a hit with the little ones. After the shows, kids can get their photo taken with Santa and share his or her Christmas list.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker From New York City Ballet

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is the version that made the holiday ballet famous, and each purchase made through Goldstar includes a complimentary souvenir book (an added value of $20), so you can revisit the Christmas memories all year long. Delighting audiences year after year since its premiere in 1954, The Nutcracker continues to be the hottest holiday ticket in town. In the ballet, Tchaikovsky’s beloved melodies transport you to a magical world where mischievous mice besiege a battalion of toy soldiers, and an onstage blizzard leads to an enchanted Land of Sweets where cakes, candies and flowers come to life and dance for young Marie and her Nutcracker Prince.

Holiday Classic A Christmas Carol at The Players Theatre

The Players Theatre presents a lively musical stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved Christmas story. Grumpy old miser Ebenezer Scrooge finds a second chance to become a loving, generous, kind human being through the aid of four ghosts who visit him in turn one Christmas Eve, each teaching him valuable lessons. Will Scrooge catch the holiday spirit and save himself in the process? This tale of redemption and forgiveness captures the spirit and magic of the holiday season for the whole family.

The Nutcracker Comes to Life on Stage Via Gelsey Kirkland Academy

Marching toy soldiers, waltzing snowflakes, mischievous mice and Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score are quintessential hallmarks of the holidays. Celebrate the season with the Gelsey Kirkland Academy’s presentation of The Nutcracker, a holiday ballet for the whole family. Featuring dancers of all ages, The Nutcracker tells the story of young Marie, who receives a gift of a wooden nutcracker doll from her godfather at a Christmas Eve party. She finds the nutcracker ugly, but that night, she dreams that it comes to life. Together, they battle the wicked Mouse King and journey through an enchanted forest of snow, and Marie makes a surprising discovery: love.

See the Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

A highlight of every holiday season, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular stars the Rockettes and features their signature high kicks, precision choreography and exciting, show-stopping numbers. This year’s show includes a breathtaking new number that transforms the stage into a glistening winter wonderland. Take a thrilling 3D ride through the skies of New York with Santa and be whisked up to the North Pole, as state-of-the-art technology transforms Radio City Music Hall into a magical, immersive dreamworld. No matter what your age, you’re sure to be captivated by the dancing, dazzling costumes and special effects of this signature holiday show.

A Christmas Story: The Musical Brings Ralphie & Family

A Christmas Story: The Musical comes to Madison Square Garden. It is a humorous account of one boy’s desperate quest to ensure that the one thing he wants most in the world ends up under his Christmas tree: an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. Based on the beloved 1983 holiday movie, this delightful musical comedy takes a nostalgic look back at the 1940s-era childhood holiday memories of one Ralphie Parker. Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) leads a cast that also features three other returning cast members from the 2012 Broadway debut, as well as funny and heartfelt songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with a faithful yet inventive book by Joseph Robinette. Young and old alike will delight in watching Ralphie’s wacky family muddle through the Yuletide with heart, humor — and one incredibly tacky leg lamp.

East Village restaurant guide: The best places to eat now

If you’re looking to eat at the best restaurants in the East Village, then have no fear because Time Out New York has put together a list of its favorites for 2013.

The magazine’s guide points diners to “critic-approved places to eat in the neighborhood, including trusty favorites and the latest hot spots.”

According to Time Out New York, ”The East Village has a knack for sprouting reasonably priced eateries that draw cult followings. No East Village restaurant guide would be complete without mention of David Chang’s enduringly popular Momofuku Noodle Bar, which spawned his mini empire, and other top toques—including Peter Hoffman with Back Forty and Daniel Boulud with DBGB Kitchen and Bar—have set up shop in the nabe. Northern Spy Food Co. has become a locavore staple for its earnest (and delicious) devotion to seasonal cooking. Also consult our curated lists of cheap eats and great brunch places.”

Momofuku Ssäm Bar 207 Second Ave, (at 13th St)

“Momofuku Ssäm Bar Chef David Chang’s latest feels like two restaurants fused into one: a Korean Chipotle, and a self-aware joint serving designer ham and pricey platters. Waiters hustle to noisy rock music in this 50-seat space, which feels like Megu compared with its predecessor’s crowded counter dining. Chefs create concoctions priced to sample, including the wonderfully fatty pork-belly steamed bun with hoisin sauce and cucumbers, and the house ssäm…,” states the magazine.

Momofuku Milk Bar East Village 251 E 13th St, (between Second and Third Aves)

“Pastry whiz Christina Tosi conjures up homey sweets at this bakery spin-off down the block from Momofuku Ssäm Bar. East village hipsters, fawning foodies and in-the-know tourists line up for the cultish goodies, including crack pie (toasted oat crust with a gooey butter filling), cereal-milk soft serve and compost cookies made with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch and chocolate chips,” Time Out New York writes.

For the full guide, visit the Web site.

Hosting guide book available for Kindle on Amazon

Airbnb Hosting Guide – Advanced Strategies To Attract More Guests, Earn More Money: An insiders guide to listing your property on Airbnb written by an experienced Airbnb host and traveller

This book by Ross McDowall is now available on Amazon. It contains best tips, strategies and insights to optimize a listing and make thousands of extra dollars per year renting out your space.

The guide goes item by item in your profile, description, photos, calendar and pricing. The book also contains an exclusive code to get a bonus $50 on your first accommodation listing as a host, or $25 off your first travel booking on Airbnb.

Other Airbnb books available include:

Inn Your Home: How To Turn Your Extra Space Into A Money Making B&B Using Airbnb” by Charlie Yzaguirre and Tim McCormick

Make 1600 dollars per month with the AIRBNB ultimate guide (How to make money with no money)” by Frederic Bibard

Airbnb A Travellers Guide – How To Search, Travel and Save a Fortune Using Airbnb” by Ross McDowall

Airbnb a Zerolution” by Rémy Giemza

Be My Guest… and pay me” by Pamela Demorest

Airbed Stories: Experiences of an Airbnb Host” by Nadja van der Heide

Hosting Airbnb Rooms: Tips and Tools” by Mark Huck

How To Get Rich Using Airbnb” by Stephen Liddell

An easier way to find the perfect apartment

I read a brief piece today and it brought to light the great opportunity people may have when looking for an apartment in New York City.

Airbnb, Wimdu, Booking and HomeAway are among the home sharing services that people coming into the city have been using to test out how the locals live while also looking for a place of their own.

Craigslist still remains an option for this, but it’s reputation has taken some shots over the years. People now wonder whether many of their listings are legitimate and have to be willing to take a major risk when they send out advance checks to cover their upcoming stay. Airbnb and others require upfront payment and have an internal screening process which can significantly reduce the amount o fraud on both ends.

I know at least a few locals who have used home sharing Web sites to find an apartment.

Whether moving to a new new city or just to a new apartment in the same neighborhood, finding the right place can be stressful and expensive. Home sharing can help reduce that stress a little — and more than likely some of the expense as well.

Airbnb Is ‘Good for Lonely People’

I found an interesting quote from Barry Diller reprinted by Peter Kafka in All Things D.

It’s certainly an interesting point, because – as many of us know — just the idea of traveling alone can be enough to dissuade many people from leaving home. Services such as Airbnb, Wimdu, Bookings, and HomeAway may be more enticing options to those who otherwise would have chosen not to travel outside their comfort zone.

Airbnb Is Good for Lonely People, Says Barry DillerNOVEMBER 15, 2013 AT 10:37 AM

Peter Kafka / All Things D

Airbnb is primarily additive. I don’t think it’s stealing much share from urban hotels. I think it’s serving people who didn’t travel because they were scared, or couldn’t afford it, or use it because it’s an antidote to loneliness. A room in someone’s house is not as valuable as a room at the Helmsley.

IAC’s Barry Diller, whose portfolio includes both Expedia and Match.com, talking to Bloomberg Businessweek.

It’s certainly an interesting point, because — as many of us know — just the idea of traveling alone can be enough to dissuade many people from leaving home. Services such as Airbnb, Wimdu, Booking and HomeAway may be more enticing options to those who otherwise would have chosen not to travel outside their comfort zone.

Let’s Make a Deal!

Bargaining is something that is at the core of many societies. When I was growing up, my friend’s dad was certainly an advocate. I’d often hear of how he would go to the Reedman car dealership in Pennsylvania to negotiate a good price on a car. I’ve sometimes wondered if he just went there for fun — whether he needed a car or not!

Famed Hungarian Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote in one of his books about a man for whom he’d once worked. That man owned a shop and his greatest pleasure seemed to come from haggling over the price with prospective customers. In fact, if a customer didn’t argue, then the shop owner wouldn’t sell to them.

I’ve known other people who have an avid distaste for bargainers. A good number of farmers I’ve known couldn’t stand attending certain markets because the culture of many in those communities was to bargain prior to purchase. Farmers would set the price and customers would disregard any signs and ask, “How much?” If the farmer didn’t drop the price of the item, the customer would pound the table at the farmer’s stand and say, “Too much!” and walk away. In a few minutes, the same shopper would return, ask how much and then pay that price and leave with their item.

Many people don’t understand and/or welcome the drama, while others can’t do without it. To each his own.

While I have never haggled over the price of a car or produce at a farmers’ market, getting a discount is something that I’ve welcomed. It’s my belief that saving money is the same as making money. Armed with that mantra I’ve always been a big fan of getting a good deal.

The East Village is still a place where deals can be found if you know where to look. Most visitors don’t know where to find these deals, but technology today makes it much easier for even the novice to find good deals.

Some of those Web sites and mobile apps are as follows:

Scoutmob

Scoutmob is a part of the “tech-savvy” coupon trend that has emerged. Studies have stated that coupons have become increasingly popular “among a nontraditional population — those who are urban, well-to-do and tech-savvy”. Scoutmob provides location-aware coupons to users on their mobile phone. Deals offered on Scoutmob are free, so users can decide to get the deal on the platform but will only pay when they redeem it at the venue.

Groupon

Groupon is a deal-of-the-day Web site that features discounted gift certificates usable at local or national companies. The company offers one “Groupon” per day in each of the markets it serves. The Groupon is activated if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all. Groupons include everything from discounts on neighborhood restaurants to massages to products and services.

Amazon Local

Amazon Local offers customers deals so they can enjoy deep discounts not only from local businesses, but also from national chains and online merchants. They deliver savings of up to 75 percent on restaurants, spas, events, travel getaways, hotels and more so you can enjoy familiar favorites and new experiences in NYC’s East Village.

Seamless

Seamless is an online food ordering service that allows users to order food for delivery and takeout from restaurants through their web site. Seamless does not prepare or deliver any food. Once a user submits an order, it is automatically sent to the chosen restaurant. The restaurant confirms the order with Seamless and then prepares and delivers the order. At many restaurants, users also have the option to pick up their meals from the restaurant.

Goldstar

Goldstar sells half-price tickets to leisure activities such as live entertainment, theatre, concerts, dance, film screenings, sporting events, and spa services. The company serves markets in the metro areas like New York and focuses on young people who may not ordinarily choose to go to live events other than movies and creates preference profiles for its members based on post-event surveys.

Unfortunately for some, you won’t get the pleasure that you may find when you bargain on your own. But for shop owners, the large majority likely will appreciate that you don’t.

Happy bargaining!