Port Washington sees boom in new local businesses

Port Washington sees boom in new local businesses
New ice cream store Smusht on Port Washington's Main Street. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

The Port Washington community has seen a boom in local businesses in 2023, and Great Port Washington Business Improvement District Director Holly Byrne said the town is on the path to surpass the growth it experienced last yet.

The Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District includes Baxter Estates, Manorhaven, Port Washington North and the unincorporated parts of North Hempstead in the Port Washington area.

Byrne said there have been 15 new businesses established in the Port Washington district in 2023 so far.

She said this only includes physical, commercial properties in the designated area, not home-based businesses. This means that there could be even more businesses launched this year.

In 2022, Byrne said 22 businesses opened throughout the entire year.

With 15 new businesses opening their doors this year, and at least eight more she is aware of in the works, Byrne said the district is on a positive trend.

The new businesses encompass a range of diverse services from a Mexican restaurant to acupuncture to ice cream and retail.

Some of the new businesses are under new ownership, which Byrne said is still a positive aspect as it exemplifies sustainment of local businesses. She said this is a better option than when businesses close, many of which do so for personal reasons not because of financial difficulties.

Byrne said that overall the new businesses have been experiencing success in their  venture as they learn how to cater to the community’s needs.

She said she is a believer in the saying that “all boats flow with the rising tide.” Applying this saying to local businesses, she said that when businesses experience success, that can then translate to the betterment of the entire business district.

“So as successes are seen in a few, that success rolls over to all,” Byrne said.

She added that the growth in businesses also leads to a “cool, vibrant vibe” in the district that brings visitors to the area.

While new businesses are coming to the district, some businesses have left as well. Byrne was not able to provide the number of businesses lost in the district but said it is normal for a certain amount of businesses to transition in and out of an area.

She said the district has a “natural attrition” with the number of businesses lost and the new businesses established.

Byrne said the shutdown of a local business is something personal to a community due to the relationship and connection it is able to foster, which makes the loss harder.

She said the retail experience is changing, with many individuals looking to find a one-stop shop for their retail needs.

While convenience is a desired shopping experience, Byrne said that the personal relations fostered through a small, local business are unmatched and unattainable through a large retail store. She said this is valuable for a community.

Byrne shared an experience where she was shopping at a local clothing store for an outfit. The employees were helpful in finding her an outfit that fit her exact needs, tailoring the shopping experience to her.

But when she got to the cash register to pay, she had found she had forgotten her wallet.

Whereas a large retail store might have turned her away at the register for not having money, Byrne said the local clothing store was understanding due to the personal relationship it forges  with its customers, telling her they would work something out.

The Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District supports new businesses through grants, as well as established businesses and those looking to improve their signage and facade.

They also work to connect new businesses to other local organizations that provide additional funding and support, including business tutorials for success.

She said the business improvement district also collaborates with the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce on the Try Port First app, where every business is listed for community members to find local places.

Byrne said the business improvement district has also designated some of its ad budget to utilize tourism tools and organizations to boost traffic to local businesses.

The Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District offers a series of resources for new and established business owners, of which all can be found on their website.

​​“I live here, raise my family here, and it just is so rewarding to give into the community and see success,” Byrne said. “I’m always bolstered when I meet a business owner who has made friends with other local business owners. I think leaning on each other and collaborating and sharing also leads to success.”

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