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Retailers Strategize For Transit Mayhem

NEW YORK — With the city’s transit strike talks still unresolved, retailers here have put contingency plans for their employees in place. At this juncture, while retailers are clearly worried about the potential strike’s effect on...

NEW YORK — With the city’s transit strike talks still unresolved, retailers here have put contingency plans for their employees in place. At this juncture, while retailers are clearly worried about the potential strike’s effect on holiday sales, their first priority lies in sufficiently staffing their stores for shoppers who do make the trek.

Bloomingdale’s has contracted buses that will pick up employees at Penn Station and the Upper West Side. “Obviously, we’ve encouraged people to take cars, and we’ll be evaluating the situation as it goes on,” said a Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman. “We are also very well situated in the suburbs with stores in Westchester, New Jersey and Long Island, so I think a lot of the people will choose to use those stores.”

As for business, she contends, “It’s been busy….If the strike happens, we’re going to be selling a lot of comfortable shoes.”

Barneys New York is asking its employees to make every effort to come in. “Those who can’t, we understand, but in the meantime, corporate employees will be asked to help out at the store,” said a spokeswoman. Even their store buyers will be present in their respective merchandise areas.

“We’re going to maintain the exact same standards for service that we provide every day,” said the spokeswoman. However, no formal transportation has been set up for the store’s employees.

Henri Bendel, which is planning along with parent company Limited Brands, has set up a hotline that will give employees locations of shuttles around the five boroughs. Employees will be able to call and make reservations for a seat.

While retail sales will suffer significantly in the event of a strike, and employees living in all locales will be greatly affected, low-income workers — like production workers at factories — will likely be the hardest hit as spending money on cabs or other alternate transportation is more burdensome for them.

John Lam, chairman of John Lam Fashion Group, one of Chinatown’s biggest garment contractors, said he’s taking that problem into account. Saying a strike would be “very troublesome,” his firm is arranging for vans to bring employees from central locations in Queens and Brooklyn to the Canal Street factory.

“In the event of a strike, our production cycle is not going to be stopped,” Lam asserted.