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The Buying Difference

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

ROI
BY FRANK J. RICH

In the effort to determine what influences the buying decision—more than anything else—both science and art have traded places over the years. Is it what’s said about a product that compels the buyer, or the way it is said? Is it the force of a recognizable brand? Or, maybe, it’s the association of the product with another brand, such as an ad for weight loss in The Wall Street Journal.

The question dogs us, even to this day. With brands taking the limelight as Main Street struggles to find its own recovery, consumption off by double digits, and pressure from all things digital, its seduction— the ease in promotion that never arrives, we hope beyond all else that the tide rises and raises us with it. But the question remains: “How do we influence the buyer to become a customer?” A recent study by Nielsen gives some clues. (more…)

April 7, 2014 |

John Jay Midfielder Amanda Flayhan Speaks Loudly and Carries a Big Stick

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Slater's Slant by Chuck SlaterBY CHUCK SLATER

Twenty-three-year-old assistant coaches don’t generally move up to a head-coach role, especially of a championship-caliber team.  But that’s exactly what Ali Steinberg did when she left as a Harrison High lacrosse assistant to take over the reins of the John Jay Cross River varsity shortly before the current season.  Last season, the Indians were 16-5-1, the Class B sectional champions and went to the state semifinals.

“It was a shock,” Steinberg concedes of getting the job.  “I’m very happy.”

The new head coach’s playing credentials are certainly impeccable.  As a standout midfielder at Rutgers, she was All-Big East, All-Regional, her team MVP and set a team record for draw controls.

And, in another bit of good fortune, one of her biggest stars is also a standout midfielder.  Junior Amanda Flayhan, an attacking midfielder, was both all-league and all-section as a sophomore.  She is also so well thought of by teammates and Steinberg that collectively they named her a team captain even though there are also two star seniors as  captains, Hannah Bocklet and Mary McAvey.

“I’ve never had a player who worked harder, on and off the field” Steinberg said of Flayhan.  “She’s always doing things to make herself better.”

Amanda Flayhan

As a high-school freshman, Amanda Flayhan, now a junior, scored seven goals and was voted the most improved member of the varsity. Photo courtesy Amanda Flayhan

And to make her team better.

“She leads by example,” the coach said.  “She takes control on the field.” (more…)

April 2, 2014 |

‘Cash Mob’ Event at Yorktown Deli Is a Hit for Yorktown Small Business Association

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BY YORKTOWN SMALL BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

The newly-formed Yorktown Small Business Association is gratified by the success of its “Cash Mob” event at the recently opened Yorktown Deli.

A steady flow of Yorktowners congregated at the shop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 23 to sample fresh Mediterranean and American fare. Proprietors Gino and Tanner welcomed residents who represented a cross section of our richly diverse community and a broad range of organizations.

So-called “cash mobs” have become a popular way for townspeople across the country to demonstrate support of locally-owned businesses. Residents are encouraged to patronize a retailer during a scheduled time period, modeled after an “open house” reception. The money spent in that burst of activity gives a boost to the business and introduces new customers who may become regular patrons and promote the business through word-of-mouth testimonials.

Supervisor Michael Grace and Councilman Vishnu Patel were in attendance, as were community advocates of all political persuasions, insuring an interesting conversation and discussion on all the hot topics of the day.

The Yorktown Deli, one of the most recent members of the Yorktown Small Business Association, said it was pleased to meet so many prospective customers and hopes many will return regularly.

If your business wants to host an event, or to learn more about Yorktown Small Business Association and Cash Mob Events, contact Bob Giordano at Yorktownsba@optonline.net or 914-874-4347.

April 1, 2014 |

Ossining’s Squirrell Wields Big Stick to Pick Up Where She Left Off on Court

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BY CHUCK SLATER
SPECIAL TO TOWNLINK NEWS + VIEWS

Six days after playing a starting role in the Ossining girls’ second straight state basketball title and a runner-up Federation finish, forward Abby Squirrell scored six goals and added three assists as a midfielder in Ossining’s 19-7 romp over Harrison in its lacrosse opener on March 28.

“She’s just a great lacrosse player,” said Dan Ricci, who coaches Squirrell’s teams in both sports.  “She’s also very unselfish.

“No, I wasn’t surprised.  She kept up lacrosse with her club team on Sundays when there was no basketball practice.”

“I’d practice with my Rez Westchester club,” said Squirrell. “It was good to pick up where I left off.  We just wanted to show everyone we were still strong despite losing lots of good seniors.”

Eight of his basketball players also play lacrosse for Ricci.

March 31, 2014 |

Arts for Westchester’s Sake

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Bruce The Blog by Bruce AparBY BRUCE APAR

“Only 45 minutes from Broadway,” wrote George M. Cohan a century ago. The song-and-dance legend’s inspiration was the duration of a train ride from New Rochelle to Times Square. But the sentiment serves as handy shorthand for the Westchester arts scene in general. Its proximity to an epicenter of entertainment casts the county as a convenient home base for marquee names who appear on stage and screen.

Beyond the star gazing factor, Westchester shines quite brightly on its own as a fertile breeding ground of creative expression. Among its most influential and effusive cheerleaders is ArtsWestchester.

On Friday, April 4, the White Plains organization presents its annual honors to persons and organizations “who create, teach and support the arts in our local communities, and make an outstanding contribution to our cultural development,” in the words of ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam.

Eight recipients will be feted at the 37th annual Arts Award luncheon at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown. It is sponsored by First Niagara Bank and hosted by CBS-TV New York newscaster Tony Aiello.

“The arts stimulate creative thinking and make communities stronger, better places where people want to live and work,” says David Ring, Managing Director, Enterprise Banking, of First Niagara Bank. Mr. Ring, who sits on ArtsWestchester’s board, is a stalwart supporter of the arts who himself was honored by the organization in 2013 for his extraordinary efforts on its  and the county’s behalf.

Like the Oscars, this year’s event will resemble a red carpet affair, with guests wearing festive head wear as exhibited in ArtsWestchester’s current popular exhibition, HATtitude.

Here are this year’s Arts Award honorees, with an edited description of their contributions. (For more information, visit  http://www.artsw.org/artsaward):

ARTS PATRON AWARD: Hannah and Walter Shmerler (Rye) – Endowed master classes at Purchase Colleges’ Conservatories of Music and Dance and support the Fellows in Residence at Tanglewood Summer Music Festival.

EDUCATION AWARD: Yorktown High School Dance Company, Veronica Dwyer, Director  (Yorktown) Nurtured the skills of talented students for more than 40 years and has worked with more than 4,000 students, training young men and women in leadership, communication skills, and loyalty.

SOPHIA ABELES EDUCATION AWARD: Westchester County Arts Leadership Association (White Plains) – Promotes leadership through professional development opportunities for senior administrators and teachers.

ARTS ORGANIZATION AWARD: New Choral Society (Scarsdale) – Concerts of choral masterworks, reputation for excellence by all-volunteer chorus, international singers and new classical works.

COMMUNITY AWARD: Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (Peekskill)  – Broadens understanding of contemporary art in a multicultural, urban community. Annual Peekskill Project transforms the city into an outdoor gallery.

COMMUNITY AWARD: Music Therapy Institute of the Music Conservatory of Westchester (White Plains) – Largest provider of music therapy services in region, serves 1,900 with disabilities.

PRESIDENT’S AWARD: Village of Ossining — Ossining 3D is outdoor exhibition of 25 sculptures to celebrate its bicentennial.

INNOVATOR’S AWARD: Caramoor Center for Music and Art (Katonah) — In the Garden of Sonic Delights is a large-scale outdoor sound art exhibition (June-November 2014) at five sites.

 

March 28, 2014 |

Inside the Buyer…

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

ROI
BY FRANK J. RICH

For all the effort we put into sales and marketing we are seldom close enough to the customer to learn his desires and his habits. More than the demographic and geographic data that identifies target audiences and market segments is the very specific information that reveals their buying habits while they are forming. The tales of buyers’ whimsy and capriciousness are bruited about as though legend were the purpose in enterprise. Unproductive and distant from the respect for all, especially those who vote with their dollars, is the notion that the buyer is the homogenized effluence of patterned behavior absent real intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth, nor ought we overestimate the potential in individuals and buyers. (more…)

March 28, 2014 |

Make Time for ‘Ragtime’ at Westchester Broadway Theater

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Bruce The Blog by Bruce AparBY BRUCE APAR

“It’s not where you start but where you finish,” goes the lyric of a Broadway standard by Dorothy Fields. For Broadway musicals, though, the tone, and even success, of a show can hinge on how it starts.  A well-staged, rousing opener lifts audience and cast alike, and it’s off to the races.

Ragtime-Coalhouse  Sarah (1280x1024) (2)

FaTye as Coalhouse Walker Jr. and Melanie Evans as Sarah perform “The Wheels Of A Dream.” Photo by John Vecchiolla

Recent shows at Westchester Broadway Theater in Elmsford that most impressed this theatergoer include In the Heights, Oliver and the current Ragtime. It’s no coincidence that each kicked off with the flourish of a memorable production number, or that each was produced by Standing Ovation Studios, whose owner John Fanelli is a devout believer in opening big. [For Oliver’s “Food, Glorious Food” appetizer, to heighten the theatrical effect, he employed extra child performers who were not present for the rest of the show.]

Ragtime indeed has opened big at Westchester Broadway Theater. Its buzz is well deserved. My daughter Elissa and I enjoyed it with one of the more responsive audiences I’ve seen at this venue. Audience enthusiasm is contagious and affects the whole room, performers included.

The show is an eyeful from start to finish, an achievement accentuated by the spare, highly mobile sets that are a necessity of thrust stage theaters like WBT, where audience members are not only in front of the stage but flank either side of it as well. The scenery “flats” that are a staple of proscenium theaters are impractical for theater in the round or semi-round.

Ragtime-Mother_Tateh (1280x1023)

Victoria Lauzun (as Mother) and Joey Sanzaro (as Tateh). Photos by John Vecchiolla

A cast of more than 40, resplendent in period costumes, a working Model “T” Ford that chugs on and off stage, clockwork choreography, and historical characters Harry Houdini and showgirl Evelyn Nesbit suspended in mid-air above the stage are orchestrated into a panoramic parade that never ceases to entertain–or enlighten. We also see Booker T. Washington, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman and J.P. Morgan.

The book, by noted playwright Terrence McNally, does not shrink from underscoring the inhuman social injustices and blatant bigotry visited on minorities and immigrants in early 20th Century New York City. That thread of narrative, invested with music by turns joyous and poignant, gives Ragtime a powerful pathos both affecting and infectious.

The talented principals all are up to the challenge of shifting between large-scale production numbers and intimate moments, led by FaTye as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Victoria Lauzun as Mother, Todd Ritch as Mother’s Younger Brother and Brittney Johnson as Sarah. A standout performance is delivered by Joey Sanzaro as Tateh, a Jewish immigrant and single parent who represents the birth of Hollywood.

CAST of RAGTIME (1280x1024)

The cast of Ragtime gathers for the rousing finale. Photos by John Vecchiolla

March 27, 2014 |
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