From double-deck buses arriving from Chinatown, lion dancers will descend on Madison Avenue on Saturday as retailers along the luxury strip celebrate the Lunar New Year and hope for a spike in business.
“It’s the Year of the Monkey,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, which is spearheading the street festival called “Madison Street to Madison Avenue” in conjunction with the East Midtown Partnership and the Chinatown Partnership.
It’s being held two days before the actual Lunar New Year on Feb. 8, which is also the Chinese New Year.
Also, a 20-page section on Madison Avenue appears in the February edition of Harper’s Bazaar China, to help attract Chinese consumers to Madison Avenue. And the Madison Avenue BID on its Web site promotes Shanghai’s Bund district.
More than 20 Madison Avenue retailers — Arader Galleries, Bally, CH Carolina Herrera, Chopard, Coach, Michael Kors, Nars, Roger Dubuis and Stuart Weitzman among them —will have Lunar New Year promotions or events in their stores.
In addition to the lion dancers, there will be less raucous performances by Chinese “face-changing” dancers and the New York Eastern Chamber Orchestra and family activities such as calligraphy, lantern-making and face painting.
“Every year we get calls from our stores for what is happening on Madison Avenue for Lunar New Year. Retailers want to celebrate,” Bauer said, noting this is the first time Madison Avenue retailers have organized around the Lunar New Year.
It’s hoped that in addition to bringing a festive atmosphere to the avenue on the day, retailers see an increase in shoppers, particularly among Chinese tourists and visitors from other countries. Spending by tourists at U.S. stores has been down for the past year due to the strength of the dollar and economic difficulties in Russia, Brazil and China. Valentine’s Day also could be a factor helping to boost sales on Feb. 8.
For the past 16 years, the Madison Avenue BID has been staging special events revolving around holidays, product categories and charities, including staging “Platinum Jewels in Bloom,” a 10-day flower and jewelry show starting Thursday and sponsored by the Platinum Guild International in support of Central Park Conservancy’s Playground Partners.
Also participating in the Madison Street to Madison Avenue event are Shanghai’s Bund Association for Promotion of Commerce & Trade, and the Confucius Institute for Business at the State University of New York.
VIPs set to attend are Yue-Sai Kan, considered the Oprah Winfrey of China; Miss China, Zilin Luo; Michelle Lee, president of Shanghai’s Bund; top executives from Hearst International, and Chinese and New York City government officials. The lion dancers arrive at 10 a.m. on Madison Avenue and 76th Street, followed by the official welcome at 11 am.