Letter: Westfield Businesses Lost $25K in One Night

Linden resident took her business elsewhere during Wednesday's 5k and believes Westfield should have done more to make the public aware of road closures.

I took the 10-15 minute drive from my house to Westfield on Wednesday at about 7:00 pm to do most of the shopping for a party I’m holding this weekend, planning on purchasing most of the items needed at Trader Joe’s.  When I encountered a sawhorse blocking the street at North & Broad, I turned toward Lord & Taylor and planned to take the back route.  I got as far as Cowperthwaite Pl. near Elm before I saw the cause of the roadblocks: dozens of people running in a race. 

Having just visited Trader Joe’s on Monday, I was surprised that I had not seen any signs about a race or road closures resulting from it, either along the course of the race or in stores.  I sat at the intersection for about ten minutes, watching a never-ending stream of runners pass by.  The group dwindled, but there were still runners as far as the eye could see.  I finally got out of my car and approached the police officer at the intersection to see how much longer the road would be closed.  He replied “Until the last group comes through.”  I live in Linden, and as President of the Linden Cultural & Heritage Committee, which holds a spring 5K race, I know that the last group can take up to 45 minutes to finish a race. 

After letting other inquiring drivers know that they might well be waiting another 20 minutes to move forward, I returned to my car, and along with many others, turned around, left Westfield, and did my shopping elsewhere.  I spent about $167 at the Shoprite in Clark.  Although I plan to return to Trader Joe’s tonight to pick up a few things unique to their store, I spent money that would have gone toward Westfield’s economy elsewhere. Presuming that the road was closed from maybe 6:45 until 8:00, which is prime time for people who work to shop, run errands and dine, and further presuming that a mere 150 people spending as much as I spent went elsewhere, that’s about $25,000 in business taken from Westfield and spent elsewhere in a mere 75 minutes. 

Not included in this estimate is the bad will engendered by a long surprise road closure, which will cause me (and likely others) to think twice about spending 20-30 minutes round-trip for nothing.  While I’m sure that the race supported some good cause, and it was refreshing to see so many people involved in their community, the total lack of notice was an indicator of poor planning.  If I had known the road would be closed at a certain time for a long period, I would have planned my trip around that knowledge. 

Despite the cop saying “it was in the Westfield Leader,” I found no mention of it in the last online issue before the race, no notices in streets or stores or even on the official Westfield website.  It wasn’t in a Union County First Alert system e-mail, which I subscribe to.  Further, Union County has a mobile electronic sign that Linden uses a week in advance of major road closures to alert motorists, but I did not see the sign in Westfield prior to the race.  After searching further online, I am now learning from the Westfield Patch that 2,700 runners got pizza and raised money for street improvements for Westfield.  Of course, living in Linden, I don’t subscribe to the Westfield Leader, nor do I often browse websites for the town.  That’s why more public notice in the form of street signs, etc. is important.  Now that the town has all the money raised from the race, maybe it can buy its own sign(s).

Being prevented from completing my busy schedule of errands after work leaves a bad taste in my mouth that will often cause me to consider whether or not my shopping really requires a trip to Westfield whenever I’m tempted to point my car in that direction, and brings the concept of “shopping locally” even closer to my home base.  For the well-being of businesses in your town, I hope that notices of future road closures will be better publicized in advance.

Molly Lenz

Linden, NJ

Concerned Resident July 28, 2012 at 12:24 PM
What? Are you kidding me? I think this writer is absolutely correct. Why is it so much trouble to provide some notice in a few significant places? It would be the considerate thing to do and even enhance the efforts of our local police. I read the leader, I knew about the run, but when I came home from work that day it was the crowds that reminded me of this event. Why do people have to be so mean and rude?
john cuzzo July 28, 2012 at 02:26 PM
I got an idea...shop in Linden....that way you won't have to drive all that way with tears in your eyes.
Jay July 28, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I haved lived, worked and shopped in Westfield for several decades. I subscribe to the Leader and Patch, and still I had to take out a Town map and mark out the race path for myself to figure out how to maneuver around the route to carpool for other events planned that day. (Despite Patch having stated a race map was on the DWC website, I could only find a written description of the route, hence having to create my own map). While I don't think the minor inconvenience warranted Ms. Lenz' diatribe (nor the mean-spirited venom from her responders), I agree with Ms Lenz that the race route (and appropriate detours) could/should have been much better marked and advertised. Perhaps this is something the organizers can take into account for next year - - certainly getting the evnt posted on the County Road Alert system is a no brainer. It did seem to me that the event was not as well advertised this year as in years past.
CountBlessings August 02, 2012 at 06:18 PM
The race flyier was only in just about every store in Westfield for two months prior to the race. Sorry her party shopping was disrupted and that we missed out on her $167 but the well advertised race raised over $60,000. Even with additional street signs there will always be someone cought off guard but it takes a special kind of person to let us know how special she is. It was a well organized event enjoyed by all.
Vivian Bedoya August 03, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Whoever published this at the Westfield Patch has a wicked sense of humor - thanks for the laugh!


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