Small businesses get boost as commuters return to New York City

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — People returning to New York City are having real positive effects on the local economy.

"I've been hearing schools are reopening more, and being on the Upper West Side, that affects us because there's a lot of families here, which is why we wanted to be here," said Kim Duncan, owner of goldenlight visions, on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

Duncan opened the custom printing and photo store on 95th and Broadway in December 2019, just three months before the pandemic shutdown.
She thought her business would always be secure at a prime location strategically near the subway. COVID-19 has forced her to reimagine her business.

"We always wanted to grow our website and our reach and be found online, but it is difficult," she explained. "Search engine optimization is a whole world that we are exploring."

Kim and her business/life partner Bretton May believe "failure is not an option." Duncan told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso they plan to make it work.

"I know we'll get past this. It's just been a really long year," she said.

Duncan has a background in marketing and customer service and is eager to welcome people back to the Upper West Side. May is an artist who designs the store's custom vinyl canvases.

During the shutdown, she took advantage of guidance and support through the NYC Small Business Resource Network to learn digital marketing and e-commerce. They also offer one-on-one personalized assistance with business coaching, financial planning, loans and grants.

Goldenlight visions began offering a new adjacent service that has taken off: photo tips.

“Everybody that comes in is concerned about their images," Duncan told WCBS 880. "Our tips will help people make them better, and then, we can take it to the next level."

Now that subway ridership is inching back to nearly 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, some commuters are just noticing goldenlight visions for the first time.

“It's great to finally see people where they're coming in now saying, 'Oh, is this new?' And here, we've been here over a year and people are just finding us now,” she said.

Watch the Small Business Spotlight video above for more on goldenlight visions and Midtown's recovery.