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Eric Feigenbaum

Pass the Pastries, Please

An avenue to happiness and well-being




Pass the Pastries, Please

CENTER STAGE FOR retail on New York’s Upper East Side has always been Madison Avenue with its charming boutiques and fashionable shops. Lexington Avenue, however, also makes its presence known with Bloomingdale’s, the anchor on the southern perimeter of the stylish neighborhood. But what about the often overlooked Third Avenue? Although Anthropologie makes a stunning statement at 71st Street, and there’s a fashionable shop here and there, and a few fine restaurants of note, the forgotten thoroughfare’s major claim to fame is “the other side” of Bloomingdale’s.

Retail, if nothing else, adapts to change and learns from the many challenges and curveballs tossed its way. Oscar Wilde told us, “Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.”

The pandemic levied a brutal test on all of us, including retail and its institutions. And though retail responded in constructive and creative ways, the trials and tribulations of the past three years have spawned a new awakening, and the evolution of an avenue.

Feel-good therapy opportunities abound on the avenue often overshadowed by its bustling upscale neighbors, Madison and Lexington. The silver lining, if there ever was one in the wake of the pandemic, is the elevation of the great outdoors to a sought-after luxury: People are clamoring for a gentle breeze, a warming ray and new “avenues” for happiness and well-being. Bakeries, juice bars, wellness centers, eyelash studios, nail salons and other beauty related shops are springing up like mushrooms after a drenching summer rain.


Pass the Pastries, Please

New to Third Avenue is Joe and the Juice, with its salads, sandwiches and shakes; The Nuts Factory, offering everything from pistacchios and candied coconuts to spices, assorted cookies and freshly roasted nuts; Breads Bakery featuring delectables such as the iconic black and white cookie, chocolate babka, lemon cakes, croissants and cinnamon rolls; and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream proclaiming, “Life without anything good is bad.” There are long lines seen at any time of day in front of Crumbl, as they bathe the olfactory senses with the irresistible aroma of freshly baked cookies. Goodsugar, directly across the street, entices passersby with a street-side sign stating, “Don’t be afraid of the name, be curious.” Not to be overlooked are Oakberry, offering “The Super Food,” and Water and Wheat with their “Fresh Pasta & Artisan Flatbread,” just a few short blocks uptown.

As people continue to venture out in droves (neighboring Central Park is packed on any given sunny day), they yearn for the new luxuries, sweet experiences and self-indulgence. Bakeries and pastry shops are leading the way and they’re ubiquitous. In addition to the allure of these purveyors of sweet delights, it should be noted that opening a small bake shop is significantly less risky than opening a full-service restaurant. Additionally, sweet offerings are a great way to connect with the community.

Pass the Pastries, Please

Free from the constraints of the pandemic, pastries, once an after-dinner delight, are now precursors to feelings of joy and satisfaction. Sweet rewards and feel-good offerings have become the new runway stars. The perfect pastry is high fashion, and pain au chocolat is the new black.

📷 Eric Feigenbaum, New York


Eric Feigenbaum is a recognized leader in the visual merchandising and store design industries with both domestic and international design experience. He served as corporate director of visual merchandising for Stern’s Department Store, a division of Federated Department Stores, from 1986 to 1995. After Stern’s, he assumed the position of director of visual merchandising for WalkerGroup/CNI, an architectural design firm in New York City. Feigenbaum was also an adjunct professor of Store Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and formerly served as the chair of the Visual Merchandising Department at LIM College (New York) from 2000 to 2015. In addition to being the New York Editor of VMSD magazine, Eric is also a founding member of PAVE (A Partnership for Planning and Visual Education). Currently, he is also president and director of creative services for his own retail design company, Embrace Design.

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