Patrick G. Mackaronis on Teaching Business Skills to Child Entrepreneurs

Patrick G. Mackaronis, co-founder and Director of Business Development at social media startup Brabble, waxes poetic on teaching business skills to child entrepreneurs.

Parents whose children have entrepreneurial leanings are likely to discover it early in the children’s lives. Before preschool is over, these children want to run lemonade stands or hold yard sales. By elementary school, their business plans expand to include pet sitting, dog walking, yard work and a variety of exotic and sometimes harebrained schemes flowing from the child entrepreneur’s vast imagination.

Not all unusual business schemes are doomed to failure, of course. One 8 year old child in our community convinced her parents to let her buy glow sticks for $1 at the dollar store and resell them for $2 on the town square. She made $200.

Children with entrepreneurial spirit are easily recognizable for their persistence. These children don’t give up when someone discourages their business plans. They may speak their ideas for running a business more emphatically in response to adult expressions of concern. They may even make some revisions to accommodate the concerns. But the one quality that is a hallmark of child entrepreneurs is that they will continue to show interest in pursuing their business ideas.

As the parent of a would-be child entrepreneur, your role is to support and guide the child so that he or she learns solid business skills. It does involve some work, but take heart: studies have shown that most successful business owners started their first business as a child.

Business Plan

Most children with a desire to run a business know exactly what sort of business they want to operate. Parents can help them establish a very basic business plan so that they understand the different facets of running a business.

For example, the parent and child can figure out what product or service the child will offer, what costs will be incurred in providing that product or service, where the start-up funding will come from, where the customers will be found, how to price the product or service, how to advertise the product or service, limitations on providing the product or service, and work quality.

Product or Service

Help the child organize his thoughts about exactly what product or service he or she will offer. Is this a product or service for which there is a genuine need in the community? Is this a product or service the child can realistically provide?

Start-up Funding

Whether for supplies or advertising, a child’s business may involve start-up costs. It is important for a child to understand that selling something or providing a service involves more than taking in money. Business investment is a risk. Is the child going to buy the lemonade ingredients for his lemonade stand with his allowance? Is he going to do some chores to earn that money? Are his parents willing to give him a start-up loan to be repaid from his profits? The child should understand that he will only make money if he is able to earn more than he invests.

Customers

No matter what service or product the child plans to offer, customers wanting that service or product are essential. A child who decides to write and sell a newspaper or make and sell homemade perfume or take on a task that to all appearances is beyond her years may have a hard time finding customers beyond those few friends and neighbors who hire or buy out of kindness.

Choosing the location or timing for a product or service based solely on the child’s schedule will also limit the customer base.

Encourage children to think logically. What kind of people want to buy lemonade? Thirsty soccer players? Why not set up the lemonade stand near the soccer field? Where do you find people who need dog walkers? Maybe a nearby vet or pet store will allow the child to advertise on their bulletin board.

Children also need to put their creative abilities to work. When my 7 year old wanted to start a leaf raking business, we expressed concern that people would be hesitant to hire a 7 year old and her 6 year old sister. Her solution? Hire her 11 year old brother to work with her at 3 times her “salary” so she could capture customers by promising the services of a 3-person team that included an 11 year old.

Pricing

Children are often unrealistic about pricing. They tend to approach pricing from the perspective of the amount of money they want to earn. Encourage your child to view the pricing issue from the customer’s perspective as well as their own. Also encourage them to take costs and the price of competing products into account when pricing their product or service.

What does this product or service normally cost? What makes hiring or buying from a child more risky or beneficial for the customer? Is your child offering something extra? What is the cost of any supplies or advertising? Show the child how to calculate a profit by taking into account the payoff of any start-up costs and ongoing expense of supplies and/or advertising.

Sales/ Service Area

In choosing a sales/service area, parents will be concerned about the child’s safety as well as reasonableness of the child having access to the work. A job across the city is not feasible unless the child is old enough and permitted to ride a bike or bus there, or unless a parent will drive the child to and from the job.

Advertising

Where and how does the child plan to advertise? Do local ordinances restrict neighborhood signs? Make sure the child understands that permission is required to post notices on private property including store bulletin boards. Will the child be advertising on the neighborhood listserve?

Limitations

Parents are likely to limit a child’s business activities to accommodate safety concerns and to ensure that the child’s business is not interfering with school and other important activities. Spell out in advance what the rules are: does a parent have to meet a prospective customer? Is the child restricted to providing service only to persons known to the family? Is the business only able to operate on weekends? Does a child have to be able to perform all of the work himself without parental assistance? Is there a limit on how many customers the child may take on in a specific time frame?

Work Quality

Helping a child develop a sound work ethic is an important role for a parent. A child undertaking work for pay should understand her responsibility to perform all of the required work to the best of her ability. If she gets tired or bored, she cannot simply abandon the job. If she is babysitting, she may never leave a child in her care unattended and must know when to seek the help of an adult. If the child cannot do the work because of unanticipated skills issues, the child needs to be honest with the customer and not accept payment. If the child inadvertently breaks something of the customer’s, the child needs to know that it is her responsibility to offer payment, even if that means she potentially makes no profit or incurs a loss for the job. If the child wishes to do another activity when work is scheduled, it is her responsibility to either reschedule the work if possible, find a replacement acceptable to the customer, or sacrifice her own preferred activity to live up to her business commitment.

The child’s business commitment should also be viewed as a family commitment. If you have allowed your child to commit to taking care of someone’s pets or to babysit, forcing a cancellation for subsequently scheduled family activities of your own sets a very bad example for your child. It also affects your child’s credibility as a reliable service provider.

Teaching children the skills necessary to operate their own businesses can be trying, but the child who masters these skills has developed important tools for success in the adult business world. The responsibility and self-reliance that running a business engenders will aid the child entrepreneur in a vast array of future endeavors.

Patrick G. Mackaronis’ Interview with the BreadStreet Investors Union Founder, David Kent

Patrick G. Mackaronis, co-founder and Director of Business Development at social media startup Brabble, interviews BreadStreet founder David Kent.

Breadstreet.com, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading investor leads providers. David Kent, President of BreadStreet.com, Inc. recently started the first and only of its kind Investors Union founded to create a marketplace for private investment deals such as oil and gas drilling, films, alternative energy, new technologies and other types of worthy ventures that do not have access to the public capital markets because of stringent SEC regulations in the area of private investments in start ups. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about his newest project along with his tips for Entrepreneurs currently on the market for investors funding. Check out his answers about this latest project!
Jim: David, can you tell us a little about yourself?

David Kent: I consider myself an entrepreneur. I enjoy being in business and helping other businesses find investors and get their ventures off the ground. I’ve had curiosity about business ventures and investments from an early age. I started my career in an oil and gas call room pre-screening investor prospects for big Texas oil and gas companies. I worked my way up into a supervisory position, learned the ins and outs of the business and soon managed my own call room. I’ve been in the investor leads industry for 10 years now and I’ve been the President of BreadStreet.com, Inc since 2005.

Patrick G. Mackaronis: You mentioned the investor leads industry? For many Entrepreneurs, this industry remains a mystery. Can you tell us about the secret behind the veil? Who are these investor leads and can they help Entrepreneurs looking for funding?

David Kent: Absolutely! According to a study by the Small Business Administration, 96% of small businesses get funded through individual private investors. A private company looking for angel capital needs access to quality pre-screened investor leads that they can present their opportunity to. Lead providers normally purchase investors leads lists from companies raising capital or create their own lists through investment surveys and then sell those lists to other companies looking for funding. A good investor leads provider surveys investors to make sure they meet the standards for an “Accredited Investor” set by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). BreadStreet.com further goes beyond the basic definition of a leads provider and actually invites accredited investors to join as members of the BreadStreet Investors Union for the purpose of reviewing investment opportunities. This process tremendously helps Entrepreneurs in that they end up talking to an interested investor willing to listen to their proposal as supposed to cold calling an investor lead from a generic investor leads list sold by our competitors.

Patrick G. Mackaronis: What is the BreadStreet Investors Union?

David Kent: The BreadStreet Investors Union was started as an initiative to help accredited and financially sophisticated investors streamline their investment research process and to create a marketplace for private deals that cannot be marketed to the public because of the SEC non-solicitation rule. In the past few years, we had received many reports from BreadStreet Investor Members that they get overwhelmed with investment calls from all kinds of companies and that they do not have the physical ability to properly screen the multitude of calls to find “the one”. This gave us the idea to start the Union where members set their exact investment criteria and investment range. When the right opportunity comes along, our members are the first to have a look. Now, investor members of the Union refer all of their investment calls to the BreadStreet web site. Callers complete their proposals on our secure Investments Message Board and our investor members get a notification if the opportunity meets their criteria. They can further take a more proactive approach and search the board themselves. The best part about being a Union member is that you get activity reward points for the investment reviews you complete that you can redeem for various perks like gift cards, travel, laptops etc. Thus, investor members of the BreadStreet Union never get taken advantage of by investor lead providers who sell the investors’ personal information without the investors’ authorization. Our members totally love the program and we enjoy great loyalty from our members!

Patrick G. Mackaronis: What about Businesses looking for funding? In what ways can the BreadStreet Investors Union help them find that funding?

David Kent: The benefits to capital seekers and issuers are many and the Union can definitely have a great impact on businesses’ ability to find funding. Let me start though by saying that BreadStreet.com, Inc does not participate in the capitalization process in any way. Breadstreet.com, Inc does not pre-sell, close or advise investors to invest in any company and BreadStreet cannot promise or imply the final results from the discussions between Issuers (capital seekers) and Investor members. What we guarantee though is that any capital seekers who comes to us and meets the criteria set by our union members will have the best shot. It is our guarantee that every single investor prospect from the BreadStreet Investors Union (categorized as “Documented Investor” at our site) will not only be a qualified financially sophisticated investor but will also be ready to take our Client’s call and have a hard look at their deal! No wasted time for Entrepreneurs + 100% Reg D compliant leads! Further, the letter that the Union members provide to BreadStreet is made available to the Entrepreneurs. The letter includes the investor’s financial professional (accountant, investment advisor, banker) contact information and an authorization to any party in possession of the letter to verify the investor member liquidity stated on the letter.

Patrick G. Mackaronis: Ok. From what we heard so far, I have no doubt that many Entrepreneurs will be thrilled to talk to the BreadStreet Union Investor Members. How does BreadStreet get compensated though? Clearly, lots of work goes behind the scene.

David Kent: Yes of course. We make sure we do our homework. Yet, the service is inexpensive compared to commissions charged by licensed broker dealers. Our Clients only get charged a flat fee for contacting an investor member of the Union. Further, they pay the fee only if they want to contact an investor member and not if the investor calls them as a result of seeing their ad posting on the Investments Board. The contact fee is anywhere from $250 to $400 per Documented Union Investor Member and the average liquidity of our investor members is in the range of $193,000. We have members with liquidity as high as $10 million and the contact fee is still a flat fee of $400. Besides, if an Investor member declines to review a proposal, we guarantee the delivery of an investor prospect with comparable qualifications to the Entrepreneur who recruited our service.

Patrick G. Mackaronis: Can you give us an example of the type of Client who comes to the BreadStreet Investors Union?

David Kent: We have one man sole proprietorship type start ups to big oil and gas corporations using the service. Any private company looking for investment capital will find the service invaluable. We have Clients in all industries.

Patrick G. Mackaronis: What will you recommend to the business people who are long on ideas but short on cash who may not be able to afford the service?

David Kent: If they cannot afford the proactive approach of directly contacting the accredited investor members of the BreadStreet Investors Union, I would recommend the next best thing which is having their investment proposal posted on our Investments Board. We give many incentives to our investor members to regularly check out the board. If an investor calls you as a result of seeing your ad, all you pay for is the ad spot, which is $49.95 a month and you further get complementary access to our premium database of surveyed investor leads and listings of angel capital and venture groups..

Patrick G. Mackaronis: What is your single best idea for Entrepreneurs on the market today seeking capital to get their ventures off the ground?

David Kent: Get proactive and make some calls to investors! It never hurts talking to a millionaire!

Patrick G. Mackaronis: Thanks for your time David! You’ve given us some invaluable insight to your organization that I am sure will be helpful to Entrepreneurs!

Interview by: Patrick G. Mackaronis

Patrick G. Mackaronis Has Seven Steps to Starting a Successful Home-Based Business

Patrick G. Mackaronis, co-founder and Director of Business Development at social media startup Brabble, has seven wonderful steps to starting a successful business from the comforts of your own home.

If you are thinking of going starting a home based business you are are not alone! Each year several thousand people begin a business at home on either a full or part time basis. The process brings with it a myriad of emotions to include excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty since there is no certain outcome. However, if you dream of charting your own course, developing a business from concept through operation, feel excited by the challenge, and believe you will enjoy the freedoms that business ownership brings with it, then move forward because the rewards for success are many.

While there is no set formula for ensuring that your business will thrive, you can greatly increase the likelihood of success by creating a strategic plan of action. The brief outline of steps which follows is just such a strategic plan and should enable you to embark on the path of entrepreneurship much more confident of your ability to succeed!

Step One: Setting Realistic Expectations

One of the first questions to be asked in starting a home-based business concerns your expectations with regard to business ownership. One of the first tasks to perform in deciding to start a home-base business is to carefully reflect on what it will take to establish a successful and growing firm. Certainly it will take financial investment, how much will depend on the type of business you establish, but it will also consume large amounts of your time from inception trough day-to-day operation. Carefully consider how prepared you are for this journey.

Does your home have sufficient space to accommodate a home-based business? Do you have the financial resources to begin? Are you prepared to put in very long hours and possibly seven day work weeks to get the business up and running? How will this time commitment impact your family? Do you have an already established network of potential customers? Are you prepared to assume the risk that the business may fail?

The above questions are not intended to dissuade you from starting a business; quite the contrary, they are meant to guide your thinking. By establishing a realistic mental outlook at the outset, you will have gone a very long way toward turning your dream of business ownership into reality! Being an entrepreneur is all about mind-set!

Step Two: Which Business is Best for YOU.

If you have made it to Step 2, congratulations! You have carefully weighed every consideration and are ready to take the next step on the entrepreneurial path. Now it is time to decide which business will be the right one for you.

As a first step, it is best to evaluate your skills, past experience, needs, interests, and hobbies to see if one of them sparks an idea from which you can build a business. You can record your thoughts with regard to each area in your journal to help you in clarifying your thoughts and narrowing your focus. Although starting a home-based business in an industry with which you are familiar can be helpful in terms of a limited “ramp-up” period, it is a misconception to think that you need to build a business based on your prior professional experience.

Many successful businesses were built by people who had an idea and ran with it! It is well known that those who feel a “passion” for their business are much more likely to succeed in! Once you generate some possible business ideas, do research to test its feasibility in the marketplace by performing industry- and consumer-based research. After you have narrowed down the choice to three or four ideas, you will want to assess which most closely align with your skills, preferred work style, as well as financial and lifestyle goals.

Step Three: Financial Considerations

A primary consideration in starting a home-based business is the total costs involved, as well as a thorough analysis of your current financial situation. The total costs include not only the monetary outlay necessary to launch the business itself (licensing fees, professional fees, supplies, etc) but also how much money you will need on a monthly basis to pay your bills and meet other financial obligations. However, careful planning combined with research into all the avenues available for financing means that anyone with the desire can certainly achieve the goal of small business ownership!

Step 4: Develop A Business Plan

It is well recognized that the creation of a well thought out and strategic business plan has been an important factor in the success of many small businesses. A business plan is basically a blueprint for how you will operate the business. While many business plans are written for the purposes of obtaining financing, it is generally a good idea to create a plan even for your own use.

The plan need not be very lengthy if you are not seeking funding, but should include all the essential areas such as legal structure, marketing research and the development of a marketing plan, as well as financial projections, most importantly the cash flow and income statements. Overall the creation of a business plan will help you to clarify your goals and objectives for the business, as well spot areas where you will need to make adjustments so that you can move forward with a clearer picture of the road ahead!

Step 5: Managing Your Business

Congratulations! You have moved through all of the preparatory work for business ownership and are now ready to get into the nuts and bolts day-to-day operation This will be a time of excitement as well as confusion since you won’t know where to start with so many priorities ahead of you! Your first task will be to carve out a separate office space in your home where you may work undisturbed so that you are able plan out all the steps necessary to launch a great new company! Your second task is to create a strategic plan with daily, weekly and monthly goals for every area of the business: financial, marketing, and operations. Think of it as the beginning of your policy and procedures manual.

The important thing is to not overburden yourself but, rather, to create a realistic plan with deadlines you know you will be able to meet. It may very well happen as you move through the stat-up process that you will find the need to change the order of goals or delete/add others. This is part and parcel of business ownership where the first rule is that nothing is written in stone!

Step 6: Developing A Sales Mind-Set

Every business owner is first and foremost a salesperson, no matter the product or service being offered. There is just no getting around the need to perform sales-related tasks if we hope to firmly establish and then grow the business. With this in mind, we can see that developing a sales mind-set is a critical skill for any business owner. To develop a sales mind-set is it helpful to think of yourself as an educator: you will be teaching your customers or clients all about your product and service and how it can benefit them. It is widely known in the sales world that consumers don’t purchase the product or service in-and-of itself, but purchase the feeling which that product or service instills in them. The key to successful sales is persistence and patience. Having a sales mind-set means you understand and accept that a “no” today can very well turn into a “yes” tomorrow through a targeted and consistent marketing campaign!

Step 7: Purchasing A Franchise

There is another avenue to home business ownership aside from starting one on your own and that is to purchase a franchise. Franchising offers many benefits such as a successful track record, fully formed operational plan, ready-made marketing materials, on-going support (so that you are in business for yourself but now by yourself”), along with the opportunity to obtain financing, either in-house through the franchise itself, or through the franchisor’s affiliation with third-party funding sources. There is a wide selection of home based franchises for you to explore so no matter your particular area of interest, there is very likely a franchise to match it! If you have a dream to be a business owner but would also like to work within an established and successful business model, franchising may very well be the answer for you!

The Best Songs About New York City: Folk and Rock Music About NYC For 9-11

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick speaks about the best Folk and Rock songs which are very close to New Yorkers. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

New York City is a thriving, bustling town that beats with its own lifeblood, the subway beneath pounding out a rhythm that the citizens feel in their shoes. Eight years ago, on September 11th 2001, New York suffered a great tragedy, but the people united to bring the City back.

This playlist –coming from the Folk and Rock genres– focuses less on the attack on 9-11, but more on the spirit of the New Yorkers. Not every song is positive, not every song is even set after 9-11, but every song captures the heart of New York.

Positively 4th Street, Bob Dylan

It is usually assumed that this scathing attack on some member of Dylan’s circle of friends is referencing Greenwich Village’s 4th Street. 4th Street in Manhattan is the heart of Greenwich Village and was the center of the American Folk Revival of the late 50s and 60s. Situated on 4th Street is Washington Square Park, where aspiring musicians would sit and play for fun and profit, many still do today (Lankford, Ronald D. “Folk Music USA”).

However, there is another 4th Street in Bob Dylan’s life. Bob Dylan attended the University of Minnesota for a short time before moving to New York to join the Folk scene there (“Bob Dylan” nndb.com). 4th Street was a major road in the area of town where many college students lived, called Dinkytown (dinkytownminneapolis.com).

Trying to analyze the mind of Bob Dylan is dangerous work, but it is possible that “Positively 4th Street” has a dual meaning, partially referring to false fellows in Minnesota, and partially to them in Manhattan.


Chelsea Hotel, Dan Bern

“New love is beautiful/ new love is sad/ new love means giving up all the old loves/ that you’ve ever had”

Set in New York City, “Chelsea Hotel” is one of the most bittersweet, uniquely touching, love songs of the modern Folk era. “Chelsea Hotel” is about the narrator trying to get over his old lover in order to pursue a future with his new one. In doing so, Dan Bern has mirrored a common situation among lovers, and he does so with trademark quirkiness.

The Chelsea Hotel (actually “the Hotel Chelsea”) is a hotel on W 23rd St in Manhattan, and has been a center of artistic activity in New York. Many musicians, writers, and artists have lived or stayed there, including (nytimes.com)

  • Bob Dylan
  • Janis Joplin
  • Sid Vicious
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Dee Dee Ramone
  • Tom Waits
  • Robert Mapplethorpe

“City of Immigrants,” “Down Here Below,” Steve Earle

Off of Americana rocker Steve Earle’s 2007 album Washington Square Serenade, “City of Immigrants” captures the sprit of New York City like few songs do. Since New York was founded as New Amsterdam, the City has been the final destination for people searching for a new life. New York continues to be a major– if not the major– port of entry in America.

Earle sings “My heart keepin’ time to a thousand beats/ Singin’ in languages I don’t speak,” and a thousand hearts ring out the same. The tapestry of colors, cultures, and flavors of NYC is what makes New York unique in America and the world.

Washington Square Serenade is an album dedicated to New York City. Earle recorded Washington Square Serenade in 2007 after moving to New York.

There are several songs about NYC on the album, including “Down Here Below,” which uses Manhattan’s famous red tail hawk Pale Male– the first red tail to ever nest in a high rise building instead of a tree, and patriarch of the blossoming red tail hawk population in Central Park (Schulman, Janet. “Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City“)–as an allegory for living in New York after 9-11. Despite adversity, Pale Male lives on in NYC, just like the people.

New York, New York, Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams’ song “New York, New York” (not to be confused with Frank Sinatra’s song of the same name) has become an anthem of sorts after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th. Besides being a love song of sorts to a lost girlfriend and to New York City, “New York, New York” had the luck (good or bad) of filming the New York skyline just days before 9-11 (“New York, New York.” songfacts.com). Since then it has been associated with the attack, and with the City.

More Songs About NYC

  • The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy), Simon and Garfunkle — No New York playlist would be complete without a Simon and Garfunkle folk song.
  • Downtown Train, Tom Waits — Captures the loneliness that only a city of 8 million can create.
  • Incident on 57th Street, Bruce Springsteen — A rock ballad about trying to find love in the darker parts of New York City.
  • New York’s Not My Home, Jim Croce
  • Rockaway Beach, The Ramones — The quintessential New York band, Rockaway Beach is a popular destination for New Yorkers looking to hit the beach.
  • New Amsterdam, Elvis Costello
  • Chelsea Hotel No. 2, Leonard Cohen — Another song about the Hotel Chelsea. According to Cohen it is about love affairs with Janis Joplin and Nico (leonardcohenfiles.com/chelsea.html).
  • Angel of Harlem, U2

This September 11th, let us pay tribute to this great city, that suffered a great tragedy, not by focusing on the attack, but on what makes New York City so alive, a city that can withstand anything. These rock and folk songs get to the heart, the soul, and the indomitable spirit of New York. Enjoy.

Free Arts and Crafts for Kids in New York City

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick wants to tell us about the eco friendly arts and crafts workshops in NYC.Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Family Friday’s Crafting. For those that try to be green, there are even free eco friendly arts and crafts workshops at Sustainable NYC.

RePlayGround at Sustainable NYC

RePlayGround at Sustainable NYC Store offers a monthly eco friendly arts and crafts workshop. They use re-purposing materials and (clean) garbage to make unique things. Some examples include cereal box wallets, magazine bead jewelry, soda bottle candy dishes and much more. These arts and crafts are offered for kids ages seven and up, and the adults that accompany them are allowed to help out. This event is offered on the second Wednesday of each month from 6 pm until 7:30 pm.

 

  • RePlayGround, Sustainable NYC Store, 139 Avenue A at 9th Street, Manhattan, (347) 885-9368

MiniMax Toys and Cuts in New York City

MiniMax Toys and Cuts is a shop known for their haircuts and toys, and on the weekend the store offers free arts and crafts selection. This is not offered every weekend, but happens on most Saturdays starting at around 10 am. On Sundays they also are known for offering free puppet shows. The crafts are geared towards kids and there is no age limitation set.

  • MiniMax Toys and Cuts, (718) 222-8697

Family Friday’s Crafting at Central Park in New York City

Family Friday’s Crafting at Central Park is offered at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. This park in Manhattan offers great nature themed crafts, and sometimes offers live music as well. They offer this every Friday from January through March, at 2 pm until 4 pm. These arts and crafts projects are offered to kids of all ages.

Spend A Weekend in New York City Tips for a Quick (and Touristy) Trip to Manhattan

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick wants to share some tips about How one can spend his/her weekend in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

While people may want to stretch their New York vacations for longer than a weekend, spending two to three days in the Big Apple still allows visitors plenty of time to have a good time.

Broadway Shows

Booking a Broadway show ahead of time is an excellent idea for the well-prepared traveler who wants to go to a show. Getting tickets before you go is also an imperative to ensure seats for incredibly popular shows, such as those with big name stars. Tickets to musicals are often hard to get day of, too.

If you choose not to get tickets before your trip, save some money and visit a discount ticket center, such as the Times Square TKTS Center, located at Broadway and 47th. They have day-of tickets to many shows, and offer discounts up to 50%. Tickets can still be pricey, but they are usually worth it.

In one weekend, assuming the trip is Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, can be used to see up to three shows – Friday evening, Saturday matinee and Saturday evening. Most of the theatres are centrally located around Times Square, giving visitors plenty of time to get from theatre to theatre. With the bevy of restaurants in the area, finding time for a meal should be no problem, either.

Museums NYC

 

Even if you choose to go to a show or two (or three) there is plenty of time to visit at least one of Manhattan’s museums. No matter your taste, there is a museum for everyone. Such as:

  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Paley Center for Media
  • International Center of Photography
  • The Morgan Library and Museum

Other New York City Fun

Though they may be considered cheesy, there are some things that everyone should do in New York at least once.

Go to the top of the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock – Get a view of the city from one of its highest buildings.

Visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty – The first thing many people ever saw as they entered the United States was Lady Liberty. Take a ferry tour of the sites from Battery Park.

Walk around Central Park – If you happen to be in the area on a beautiful day, take in the sights and sounds of Central Park. This expansive green, modeled after London’s Hyde Park, is quite scenic in the spring.

Take a picture in Times Square – This stretch between Broadway and 7th is always buzzing. See the place where the ball drops to mark the beginning of each year, or just sit on the big red bleachers and watch the other visitors take in the sights.

Free Movies in New York City

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will tell us about some places where we can enjoy free movies in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

McCarren Park Pool in New York City

McCarren Park Pool offers a popular film series that is every Tuesday night at 8 pm from July through August. The movie begins after free live music, which begins at 7 pm. This is one of the more popular places for free movies, especially due to the fact that they offer many popular movies. Some of the movies that have been played here include Bring It On, Bonne and Clyde and Purple Rain.

 

McCarren Park Pool, Lorimer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, www.summerscreen.org, www.mccarrenpark.com

Instituto Cervantes in New York City

Instituto Cervantes offers a great selection of both Latin American and Spanish films. They also sometimes offer English language films that deal with Spain or Latin America. They offer a weekly film series every Wednesday at 6:15 pm. They also offer free lectures and panel discussions, as well as a popular library. Throughout the year they will offer other activities as well, many of which are free and open to the public. Information on these events can be found on their website.

Instituto Cervantes, 211-15 East 49th Street, (212) 308-7720, www.cervantes.org

Monday Movies Series in New Jersey

Although the Monday Movie Series requires crossing the Hudson, this is a very popular film series for those that are in New York City, and is a great excuse to escape the heat of the city. They offer a series of classic Hollywood movies, which are played in their lovely air conditioned parish hall. They even offer free drinks and snacks, usually offering the guests free seltzer and popcorn.

Monday Movie Series, All Saints Parish Hall, 707 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, summermovies@aol.com, www.allsaintsboken.com

Fall Activities Near New York City: Apple Picking, Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches in the NY Metro Area

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will talk about some Fall activities that one can enjoy in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

As the air gets crisp and apples and pumpkins begin to ripen, area farmers and orchard owners pull out all the stops to create great wholesome outdoor fun for the whole family. Anyone who has never been in a corn maze is in for a treat navigating through 8 to 10-foot stalks – it is definitely not just for kids.

A Farm in the City

The Queens County Farm Museum is the only working historical farm in New York City. Located in Floral Park, it is accessible by car, Long Island Railroad trains or city subway and bus lines. In addition to the museum, historic farmhouse and various farm animals, starting around mid-September through Halloween, the Queens County Farm Museum offers a giant corn maze filled with interactive activities. There are also hayrides and, on select weekends, special fall-theme festivals, pumpkin picking and Halloween activities.

Orchards Outside NYC

Looking to leave the confines of the city? There are plenty of options all less than a two-hour drive from midtown Manhattan many along scenic routes great for viewing the fall foliage.

On Long Island, try Fink’s Country Farm in Manorville, NY. Fink’s offers a host of activities in including hayrides and a combine slide. For a real challenge try the 7-acre corn maze at night with just a flashlight for guidance. Fink’s has a fully stocked farm stand featuring local produce and a u-pick pumpkin patch.

Headed in a different direction to the Hudson Valley, Barton Orchards, in Dutchess County has many fun fall activities. The smell of freshly baked apple cider donuts fills the air of Barton’s large country store. A 5-acre corn maze and haunted house are among the many attractions offered during the fall harvest season. Barton’s has two admission package choices – spend a few hours or the whole day.


Billing itself as New Jersey’s largest corn maze and hayride event, the Field of Terror in East Windsor, NJ is certain to get guests in the Halloween spirit. The flashlight maze and other haunted attractions are frightful but there are also family friendly options for the faint of heart. Young children will enjoy the daytime hayrides and pumpkin picking.

Pumpkins as Art in Westchester County

The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze is held each year on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Stroll through the paths of this grand estate after dark and view the thousands of extraordinary hand-carved pumpkin creations. In addition to standard Halloween witches, ghosts and goblins, the display also features intricately carved animals, flowers and scenery. Members of the Historic Hudson Valley receive free admission to the event with advance reservation. All others must purchase tickets at the gate. The Blaze normally runs through the whole month of October.

Exploring New York City’s Morningside Heights: A Walk Through a Lively, Historic NYC Neighborhood

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick wants to speak about some places where we can take a morning walk Through in the Historic NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Outdoor Living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side

Riverside Park, with its sweeping views of the Hudson River, is one of the city’s great outdoor spaces and serves as the neighborhood’s much-loved back yard. Dog owners let their pets run free in its many dog runs, couples watch the setting sun color the Hudson, Columbia students park themselves on the grass to study, and small children run and climb in the many playgrounds known as “Tot Lots” on the upper boulevard.

Bicyclists and walkers enjoy the waterfront esplanade that runs for four miles directly along the river from 158th Street to 59th Street, where it connects with another path that leads to Battery Park at Manhattan’s southern tip. Soccer and baseball fields, a skateboard park, a boat basin, kayak launches, and tennis courts are all found within Riverside Park. There is also a small wildlife area, “Forever Wild,” with footpaths for exploring. At the northern end of the area, just north of Grant’s Tomb, is the small and charming Amiable Child Monument.

 

Columbia University, New York’s Ivy League

Founded in 1754 by royal charter from King George III, Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus covers more than 30 acres and six city blocks. The impressive wrought-iron gates at Broadway and 116th Street lead to a classic Ivy League campus filled with nineteenth century Beaux Arts buildings.

College Walk takes the visitor straight through the campus, from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue. Notable sights along the way include Low Memorial Library, a National Historic Landmark, with its enormous bronze statue of a seated woman, Alma Mater.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Also Called Saint John the Unfinished

A massive Gothic structure overlooking the cliffs of Morningside Park, Saint John the Divine is the seat of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Located on Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street, Saint John’s was originally intended to be Romanesque in style. In 1909, the plans were altered to create the imposing High Gothic edifice that exists today.

Open to the public, the cathedral is an active participant in the life of the neighborhood with church services, outreach programs, a fine school, and a lively arts program. Its motto, “A House of Prayer for All People,” reflects the cathedral’s commitment to a diverse population.

The grounds of the cathedral are as fascinating as the interior. A large sculptural fountain to the east is ringed by small bronze sculptures created by Manhattan school children. Near the back of the cathedral is one of New York’s hidden treasures: a tiny Biblical Garden, tucked away from the hubbub of the city, where shady arbors offer an occasional glimpse of the Cathedral’s free-roving peacocks.

Eating Out in Morningside Heights

Eating is one of New York’s great recreational activities, and Morningside Heights offers many choices. The Hungarian Pastry Shop, directly across from the Cathedral, has served up coffee and cookies to generations of Columbia students and professors. Tom’s Restaurant, known to Seinfeld fans the world over, is on the corner of 112th Street and Broadway. Lime Leaf on 108th and Broadway is a fine and atmospheric Thai restaurant.

For world-class chocolate, step into Mondel’s Chocolates at 2913 Broadway, a tiny shop that has sold spectacularly delicious, hand-made chocolates of every variety since 1943.

Morningside Heights is a NYC neighborhood that richly repays an afternoon spent strolling its streets.

Top Restuarants in New York City: Best Places to Eat in The City That Never Sleeps

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will suggest some of the perfect restuarants, to have a wonderful meal. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

New York City offers a tasty escape from the doldrums of dining. A trip to the megalopolis is a perfect opportunity to sample its wares. With hundred of options know the best in three categories: Thai, Southern Style, and Italian.

THAI- Joya

215 Court St

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone: (718) 222-3484

Hours:Mon 5pm-11pm, Tue-Thu 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 1pm-12am, Sun 1pm-11pm

Thai food is the new black, hip and flavorful. For the best Thai food NYC has to offer go to Joya, located in the heart of Brooklyn Heights. Joya’s is small with low lighting, each table is candle lit. But do not be confused, this is no first date oasis or meet-the-parents diner. Esoteric avant-garde art litters the walls. The cooking is done in plain view so the popping of the flame and banging of the pans coupled with the music at nightclub volume makes normal conversation almost impossible. So make this a girl’s night out choice or rowdy friend retreat. During the warm months escape the bounce and eat on its outside patio.

Joya’s menu prices are reasonable to downright cheap. The food is delicious and well worth more. The menu offers dishes such as panang curry and pad see ew. If their ethnic variety confuses try the Thai staple pad thai with chicken or shrimp which is savory stir-fried rice noodles.

SOUTHERN- Virgils

152 West 44th St.

New York, NY 10036

212-921-9663

Hours: Sun-Mon 11am-11pm, Tue-Fri 11:30-12am, Sat 11am-12am

Virgil’s is the closest thing to true southern food found in the Big Apple. Conveniently located in Time Square, Virgil’s down to earth feel offers a comfortable ambience for serious eaters. The best of country music hovers over the air and the rich smell of the barbeque promises delectable dishes. The wait staff is professional and friendly. The prices are in the medium to high range; the highest menu item being the 16oz grilled sirloin steak.

The founders claim to have clocked ten thousand miles visiting over a hundred barbeque joints past the mason Dixie line to find the best of the region and the menu tells the tale. From Memphis ribs to Carolina pulled pork the restaurant’s food is delicious. Try the Train wreck Fries topped with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, ranch dressing, and pickled jalapenos. In a carnival mood? Start the meal off with Okalahoma State Fair Corndogs which taste scrumptious.

ITALIANBond 45

154 West 45th St.

New York, NY 10036

212-869-4545

Hours: Sun 1pm-9pm, Mon 11:30am-11pm, Tue-Sat 11:30am-midnight

Bond 45 is an exceptional throwback Italian restaurant located in the theatre district. It’s antipasto bar sits like decorative art at the entrance of the eatery and beckons the nightly show crowds. The concept behind the restaurant is simple: pretend you’re in New York, in the theatre district, eating Italian food. Ok, now imagine its sixty years ago. Bond 45 is all the drama of Broadway’s gilded age. The building was once the Hammerstein Theater and their website reminds us that the Ziegfield follies began on the roof.

The wait staff is every bit as charming as the set up and knows the menu backwards and forwards. The menu is extensive and offers the best of Italian dining options. From the antipasto bar chose the shrimp and scallop salad which is light and lemony. Gael Greene of “New York Magazine” declares their pizza the best in city. Whatever you might decide on for the main course be sure to settle on the canolli for dessert. This toothsome delight is the perfect way to bring the curtain down.

Choosing The Right Preschool In New York City Photos

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will share some important points that we should take care of, while choosing a Preschool in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Choosing the right pre-school in New York City can be a real headache. Many families decide to move to the suburbs just for the sake of having their child in a better school. It is commonly assumed that schools in the suburbs provide a higher quality education than schools in the urban area. However, the reality is that there is no other place like New York City when it comes to offering children endless opportunities to develop academically, socially and culturally. So how to be absolutely certain that the only way for a child to end up in a decent preschool is for the whole family to move to the suburbs?

Leaving the city that never sleeps and moving to a quiet suburban area is a big decision. Parents need to be comfortable with this choice and know in their hearts that all viable options have been exhausted and that such move is the right step for the family. Some diligent research and basic understanding of the New York City school system is a must in order to determine the right pre-school options.

If a child is two to five years old and he or she is ready to start a pre-school, also known as Pre-K (pre-Kindergarten), the following should be considered:

New York City Department of Education Guarantees a Spot for Your Children in Public Schools

There are definitely some clear advantages in sending your children to New York City public schools. Besides the fact that public school education is free, the variety of the academic programs is quite impressive. The classroom size may be larger than desired, however children are exposed to the variety of different cultures and social backgrounds that makes their preschool experience priceless.

  • New York City public preschools are free.
  • For those who live in New York City, their residential address already falls under a specific pre-designated school for that residential zone. These zones are determined by the New York City Department of Education.
  • The NYC zoned system guarantees a spot for a child in a preschool as long as parents are able to present a proof of address.
  • Even though it may seem that the zoned system limits parents’ school choices, many NYC pre-school age children attend public schools.
  • Public schools in New York City can be further researched through the Public School Website: www.NYCNET.com .

Information Regarding Rules fo Private Preschools in New York City is Not Available from the New York City School Board

The information about non-public New York City preschools and private academies should be obtained directly from the schools. Generally, the City of New York does not provide grants or vouchers for students to attend private schools. It’s a known fact that New York City Department of Education has a very minimal impact on the rules and regulations that are established internally in private preschools.

  • The first determination that parents in New York City have to make is whether they are budget ready for the private school tuition.
  • A careful consideration should be given to whether a child needs to attend a Pre-K all five days a week. Some families are only interested in a part-time schedule.
  • If there is a concern about the popularity and rating of the particular school, a proper research should be done.
  • Websites like www.parentsknow.com provide lots of various and useful information on this subject.
  • Having a back-up plan is vital. The admission process is highly competitive. Unfortunately, some parents assume that because they are paying expensive tuition fees, their child will be automatically accepted to the school of their choice. They may be very disappointed to learn otherwise.

It’s important to remain open-minded and have faith in the New York City public schools system. New York City public schools have a standardized grading system and they must follow the Federal and State regulations. To make an informative decision, parents should use all avaiable research tools to understand their zoned pre-school rankings, various stats and programs offered at the school. Meeting with a parents’ co-ordinator at school may be a great idea. However, all children are different and, sometimes it’s important for a child to be in a smaller student to teacher ratio enviroment. Private schools also provide more oppotunities for the parents to voice their opinions and be more involved in their child school’s events and activities. In such case, the right decision may be to pursue a private school opportunity.

Nissan-powered Cabs in New York City

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick wants to tell about the present condition of cabs in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Recent news of American automakers experiencing economic difficultly over the past few years has inevitably sparked an interest in foreign transportation. The wealthy have gravitated toward these brands of vehicles as they have been considered “luxury,” considering their high-end features and sleek body designs. Among the aristocratic population are the taxi fleet owners of New York City, who arranged to have the auto industry giants present a new-and-improved taxi model for the future.

The final winner of the contest would receive a $1 billion contract from the mayor to begin supplying the city with new wheels. It turns out that the Japanese-based company Nissan won the vote of Michael Bloomberg after all.

Dates & Specifications

 Nissan beat out Ford Motor Company and Karsan to replace 13,000 old cabs in New York City over the next decade. The new model is valued at $29,000 per cab and has a gas mileage index of about 25 mpg, nearly twice that of the Crown Victoria that currently roams the streets looking for pedestrians in need of a lift.

The new Nissan van, which is handicap accessible and has the ability to convert to an all-electric engine, has almost 10 inches of extra leg room for a comfortable four passengers, separate temperature controls, anti-bacterial, nonstick seating and a variety of other technological upgrades. Cab riders will be able to charge their phones and laptops, along with USB port options, while the driver has the reliability of GPS navigation. Beginning in 2014, the current Crown Victoria by Ford will be phased out and every cab in New York City will be powered by Nissan by the year 2017.

This is where it gets interesting.

 “Ford offered the Transit Connect van, but city officials found the model problematic and uninspired. New York also thumbed down the Karsan model because of perception that the Turkish car manufacturing firm has little experience in the American transport market (Hernandez, 2011).” But it appears that the consultant who evaluated the designs, Ricardo Incorporated, has been previously employed by both Ford and Nissan! Some groups believe that this may have heavily impacted the voting process, and an investigation into the matter is currently underway.

Nonetheless, the contract will help Japan recover from the devastating natural disasters that are still causing some problems in their country. If it turns out that this influenced the final decision to choose Nissan, I’m sure that no one will complain, especially the fans who are very excited to see the new cabs in action.

Summer for free in New York City How to enjoy the city for no money during the summer

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will share some tips by which we can enjoy the city fun without spending money. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Free movies

Bryant Park shows classic films every Monday starting mid-June through August. Bring your own blanket and picnic starting at 5 pm, the show starts after sunset between 8-9 pm.

RiverFlicks will show movies on Wednesday and Friday starting in July. The Wednesday movies are for kids and show at Pier 46 near Christopher Street on the Hudson River. The Friday movies are for adults and show at Pier 54 at 14th St.

Free concerts

Bryant Park also hosts free concerts every Friday that are broadcast on the morning program Good Morning America. The concerts are between 7-9 am. Show up early for popular acts.

Lincoln Center hosts Midsummer Night Swing going on during the week and weekends in the summer. To dance in the roped off area you need to purchase a ticket, but you can hear the music and enjoy it just as much for free on the outskirts like many others do.

Free plays

Shakespeare in the Park is put on every summer by the Public Theater in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. Line up early to get free tickets because it’s very popular. Limit two tickets per person.

For those that prefer an easier free Shakespeare performance check out the free New York Classical performances every Thursday-Sunday nights at 7 pm in Central Park near 103rd Street.

Free kayaking

The Downtown Boathouse has free kayaking through August. Check them out at Pier 40 along the Hudson River near Houston St. Hours are 9 am – 6 pm

Getting there

Bryant Park is located at 42nd and 41st Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues. Take the B/D/F/V subway to 42nd stop.

Pier 46 is at the very west side of Manhattan near Christopher St. Take the 1 train to Christopher/Sheridan Sq. stop and walk west to the West Side Highway.

Pier 54 is across the West Side Highway near 14th St. Take the A/C train to 14th St. stop and walk west.

Pier 40 is located at Houston St. and across the West Side Highway. Take the 1 train to Houston St. and walk west.

The Delacorte Theater is at the south end of the Great Lawn of Central Park. Take the C/B train to 81st. St. Follow the path and signs to the theater.

New York Classical performances inside Central Park near 103rd St. Take the C/B train to 103rd, cross over into Central Park. Plays are informally performed on the lawn near the pond inside the park.

More NYC: Free sights

Transportation info: How to buy and use a MetroCard

Neighborhood info

-NoLIta: Mulberry Street

-Upper West Side: Historic Upper Manhattan

-West Village: Greenwich Avenue

New York City Travel and Tourism Rates Set to Break Record

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will speak about the NYC Travel and Tourism that is breaking all the records. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Take New York City, for example. New York City is the most popular travel destination in the United States, (Forbes) hence, has the most to lose by a precipitous drop in travel and its related expenditures. Restaurants, hotels, and cultural attractions alike would all suffer a blow with a loss of tourists. Fortunately — and to some, surprisingly — this summer is turning out to be a record-breaker for New York City travel.

New York City Tourism Industry

On August 11, 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that New York City was on track for new highs and record-breaking tourism levels in 2010. The mid-year travel rates are tracking higher than for the same period in 2009: New York City had 23.5 million tourists in the first half of the year, an 8.75 percent increase over the same period in the previous year. What with the popularity of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Christmas in New York City, NYC is projected to meet (if not exceed) its goal 47 million visitors by the end of 2010, and of 50 million annual visitors by 2012.

 

New York City Hotel Occupancy Rates

No other sector is as valid a measure of travel rates to NYC than is hotel occupancy. After all, residents see Broadway shows and eat at restaurants frequently — those are two of the benefits of living in the Big Apple.

NYC & Company sent me a 5-year trend report of hotel occupancy rates, as determined by its Research and Analysis Department. The breakdown clearly shows that hotel occupancy rates are the highest at midyear in 2010 than any of the past five years: July 2010 shows hotel occupancy at 86.9%, with the matching months of 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 all being somewhat lower (with 2009 rate of 84.8% being the lowest of the past five years).

Average daily rates (ADR) tell a somewhat different story. The ADR for July 2010 is $220, higher than July 2009’s ADR of $198, but lower than those of 2008, 2007, and 2006. Perhaps this represents an adjustment to “the new normal” for New York City daily hotel rates, or perhaps this shows that hotel value packages and deals are enticing more people to spend their vacation dollars in the city.

Other New York City Tourism Sectors

All sectors are showing a rebound from 2009’s low travel rates. The first two quarters of 2010 had a 9.4 percent increase in non-commuter travelers coming to Penn Station on Amtrak, bringing over 1.8 non-commuter passengers in the city. In-bound passenger traffic at the three major airports servicing New York City also increased in the first half of the year, by 1.2% domestic and 4.8% international arrivals. In the first half of the year, Broadway shows had an increase of 3.7% over January-June 2009, selling more than 6 million tickets.

The travel and tourism industry, with its leisure and hospitality sectors, is New York City’s fifth largest industry. In 2010, more than 320,000 people are employed in some way in the travel industry and leisure markets. Hotel tax revenues contributed $178 million to the city’s coffers in the first half of 2010, up a whopping 25% over the same time period in 2009. Clearly, things are looking up for NYC’s travel and tourism industry. One can only assume — and hope — that the rest of the country follows suit.

New York City’s Harlem Book Fair: Books and Literary Reading Entertainment

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will tell us about the Harlem Book fair, a great place for Book lovers.Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Max Rodriguez, founder of the Quarterly Black Book Review (QBR), started the Harlem Book Fair in 1999. The annual event that is usually held in July takes place at West 135th Street between and Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

The Harlem Book Fair Begins

During its first year, the fair was a small community event that mainly spotlighted books. The crowds were not what they have become. However, books sold in large quantities, testament to the passion that African Americans have for memorable storytelling.

Ten years since its inception, the numbers of people who attend the celebration of African American writers and books has swelled by the hundreds. Representatives from major book publishers and local magazines and newspapers set up booths at the fair. The fact that independent authors and publishers are afforded the same consideration as are large imprints makes the fair a welcomed experience.

C-SPAN, Media and the Harlem Book Fair

C-SPAN’s “Book TV” covers the event live. Sponsors for the 2009 Harlem Book Fair included the Dallas County Community College District, C-SPAN, the African American Literature Book Club, Parle, Magazine, radio station KISS 98.7, Urbintel, American Legacy Magazine, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Kenworth Consulting.

As soon as book lovers enter the fair, they are met with tables of new and classic books. Getting an autograph copy of a favorite book is as easy as shaking a good friend’s hand. All readers have to do is request an autographed copy of a featured title.

Throughout the day bestselling writers take the stage that is placed near the fair’s entrance. The writers read excerpts from their latest books from the stage. Previous years have seen writers like the National Basketball Association’s Kareem Abdul Jabaar, Zane, Tracy Price Thompson, Carl Weber and Denise Turney featured at the main stage. Book and media businesswoman, Heather Covington, owner of New York City’s Disigold Soul, served as co-emcee for the 2006 Harlem Book Fair.

Discussion Panels and Entertainment at the Fair

Across the street from the Harlem Book Fair at the Schomburg Center author book discussions and talks are held. The discussions are open to the public. Prior featured author talks include Life is Short and Wide: Memoir and Biography in the Diaspora, The Politics and Legacy of Ama Ata Aidoo and They Lived Before Adam.

The fair has also hosted live stage performances at the Schomburg Center like the one man play, Growing Up Daddy. Writers hoping to break into print can attend panel discussions led by published authors to learn how to land an agent, find an editor and market and promote their books.

Poetry, children’s books, photograph, non-fiction and fiction titles line the many tables at the fair. It is not hard to find great price deals. The event that generally starts about 10:00 a.m. does not wind down until 6:00 p.m. Crowds remain steady until the last event wraps up.

The night before The Harlem Book Fair, the QBR holds an honoree’s banquet to pay tribute to talented African American writers, literary pioneers and activists. Previous banquets have honored people such as Carla Ranger, Dr. Jerrie Scott, Catherine Achonolu, Sekou Sundiata and Abiodun Oyewole. Attending the event that is free to the public upon reservation is an excellent way for book lovers to spend an intimate evening with their favorite writers and other literary front runners.

New York City’s Official Tourist Center Interactive Google Maps, Brochures and Helpers at NYC & Company

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will share some tips for the tourists, so that they can enjoy there tour without getting intimidated in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

New York City’s size and non-stop energy can often intimidate its visitors. And without the right itinerary before arriving or for those who plan while in the city, good information is key. More important is how to put an itinerary together while trusting the source. Otherwise, any trip can sour quickly.

The City’s marketing and tourism officials, along with Mayor Bloomberg, set out to dispel visitors’ fears and to soften their welcome. The official tourism Web site was updated, and the visitors’ center was closed for six months while a $1.8 million uplift took place. The result is a hi-tech, sleek and one-stop place located in Midtown at 810 Seventh Avenue and between West 52nd and West 53rd Streets. The extra-large room is a virtual storefront of tourism information powered by interactive map tables, a wall-size Google map, free brochures and cheerful personnel with all the right answers.

How to Create a Personalized Itinerary at NYC & Company

Upon entering the tourist center, a visitor takes an orange disk labeled “You Are Here.” When placed on a four-foot-by-five-foot-wide map table, the disk automatically programs to respond to the visitor’s choices. On screen categories are labeled hotels, tours, restaurants, museums, etc. Also onscreen is a map of the five boroughs, which moves beneath the disk when a finger is drawn across the screen.

Click on a category and individual venues appear on the map. Click again and the venue enlarges with a brief description. Like the choice? Click again and it’s saved to the visitor’s individualized itinerary that’s stored on the system until complete.

NYC & Company’s members appear as first selections. Later suggestions are a feed from Time Out New York, the international magazine for entertainment and for travelers.

 

Here’s the fun part. Take the disk to a simple, white stand and place it on its glass top. Click print and the personalized itinerary is ready in seconds. On its colored map are all the marked attractions the visitor made. On the back of the sheet are addresses, telephone numbers and URLs. Itineraries can also be emailed or sent as text to a phone. Unfortunately, transportation routes are not shown.

Use the Google Map with the Personalized Itinerary

Along the tourist center’s back wall is a huge screen with revolving photos, often seasonal, that show NYC’s tourist attractions. But putting the disk on the small stand in front of the screen turns the wall into a Google map where a red line highlights the the visitor’s personalized itinerary, both with an overview route and one with 3-D images.

Brochures and Touchscreens at the NYC & Company’s Tourist Center

Not all visitors need a planned itinerary. Some only want brochures. Hundreds are available here, all elegantly displayed in one long line on a side wall. They are grouped by category, which minimizes the confusion and clutter factors. Also available is the free and seasonal “Official Visitor Guide,” which has multiple coupons, listings and a map.

Several touchscreen wall panels list attractions by category. Touch one and individual venues appear with general information and in nine languages. Choices can be emailed but not printed.

Tour Tickets and the Metro Card are Sold at the Tourist Center

Despite the hi-tech appeal and the convenience of interacting with a machine, many visitors need a helping hand. Well-trained personnel — all New Yorkers — are available. If NYC’s five top jazz clubs are needed, the helper prints out an informational sheet. Want the private addresses of stars living in New York City? That’s not possible.

Tickets for many attractions can be purchased at the center: Grey Line Sightseeing Bus; Statue of Liberty; Empire State Building; New York Pass; Top of the Rock and more. Buying tickets at the center helps to cut down wait time at the attractions.

Once a month a venue is highlighted, such as the recent two-for-one-admission tickets for the Intrepid. Individual discount coupons for some theatre performances and for other events are on hand. The selection changes daily. An ATM-like machine dispenses the Metro Card.

Hours of Operation at NYC & Company’s Tourist Center

Open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m to 6:00 p.m. Weekends 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Telephone is 212-484-1200.

Free Gourmet Food Samples in New York City

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will list some places where we can get free Gourmet food samples in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Black Hound New York in New York City

Black Hound New York is a gourmet bakery that is very popular in New York City. Throughout the store they tend to place rather generous sized samples of many of their baked goods. These tend to change regularly, so lots of people will stop by here to see what new treats are being offered for sampling.

 

  • Black Hound New York, 170 Second Avenue, (212) 979-9505

Agata & Valentina in New York City

Agata & Valentina is one of the most well established gourmet markets in New York City. They often have a great selection of samples, offering everything from gourmet cheese and bread plates to smoothies or even pizza. They have samples put out throughout the weekend, but their best samples tend to be put out during the weekend.

  • Agata & Valentina, 1505 First Avenue, (212) 452-0690

Chelsea Market in New York City

Chelsea Market is a popular, large marketplace that is filled with many gourmet shops. This market used to be the former home of the Nabisco Company, and they offer a great selection of nearly everything. They offer samples of everything from bread and fruit, to gourmet brownies and cookies. The weekends seem to have more samples, but samples are available throughout the week as well. On Friday and Saturday they even offer some samples of fine wines. They also offer free high speed internet to those with a laptop throughout the week, so it’s a popular stop for students and business people.

New York City Travel on a Budget

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will share his views on how one can plan a NYC tour even with a small budget. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

New York is a fabulous place to visit even on a budget. There are many ways to make this an inexpensive trip that is nonstop fun.

At first glance, the words budget and New York City would not seem to go together but with the seemingly endless amount of things to do and see in New York you would be amazed at how little it can cost.

Getting To New York City

Of course getting to New York depends a great deal on where you live. If you are already on or near the East Coast you could consider the option of either flying or taking the Amtrak. If you are traveling from the West Coast you will likely want to fly unless you are not restricted as to length of time. Airlines are always offering airfare sales. One good option is to see who has the best rates by checking a travel site such as Expedia or Travelocity. You can search for flights on the dates you want to travel and see which airlines are offering the best deals.

 Accomodations in New York

If you are thinking Manhattan on a budget then you might want to think again. Hotels in New York can be very pricey but if you look in New Jersey, Brooklyn or Queens you can find much better deals and still be close enough to explore New York.

Getting Around New York

The subway system in New York is a great way to get around. You can purchase a one day Metropass for $8.25 and ride the subway as much as you want. There are subway maps available for free and once you get the hang of it you will be amazed at how quickly and easily you can get around the city. Of course, you will want to wear comfortable walking shoes! When you need to take a rest from walking take a few minutes to stop in at one of the many cafe’s around town and enjoy a wonderful piece of cheesecake or whatever type of pastry catches your eye.

Historic sites are everywhere in New York

Whether you decide to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or stroll through the shops in Greenwich Village, visit Ground Zero – the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks or go to Central Park, the possibilities are virtually endless and inexpensive. Make sure you check out the sights and sounds of Times Square at night. There is so much activity going on – every night of the week feels like a carnival atmosphere.

New York on a Budget

So if you have always had a dream to see New York city, don’t delay any longer. Go ahead and start planning it now. No matter how much time you have to spend there you can fill it up with great things to do and see! Make sure you plan your trip in advance to get the best deals on travel and accommodations. Also, make a plan for each day you are there so you are able to see and do all of the things you want to. Once you’ve made that first trip to New York City you will find yourself planning the next one in no time!

Free Entertainment in New York City

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will list some of the places where one can get entertained without spending money. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Shakespeare in Central Park

Shakespeare in Central Park is the most well known Shakespeare in the Park festivals and has been offering free performances in Central Park in New York City for over 60 years. Each summer they offer productions, usually with some very well known actors. They begin handing out tickets at 1 pm and tickets tend to run out rather quickly. Sometimes they will hold reservations for tickets that can be picked up at the Delacorte box office at around 7 pm, so people will often call in advance and ask them to hold tickets, especially if they are unable to get to the box office during the time they hand out their tickets.

 

  • New York Shakespeare Festival at The Public Theater, Delacorte Theater, Turtle Pond, (212) 539-8750, Publictheater.org

Circus Amok in New York City

Circus Amok offers circus performances that are politically minded. They offer many performances in public parks throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The performances are done throughout June and further information is available on their website.

  • Circus Amok, (718) 486-7432, Circusamok.org

Gorilla Rep in New York City

Gorilla Rep is a group thats puts on Shakespeare plays. They’re known for changing locations for each scene of the plays. They have many followers and are one of the more popular groups that does Shakespeare in the parks throughout the boroughs of New York City.

  • Gorilla Rep, Riverside Park (North of 79th Street), Gorillarep.org

Hudson Warehouse in New York City

Hudson Warehouse is a group that is known for taking classic productions and offering them in a more modern twist. The group likes to change the classics so that they are more relevant to modern day and so people can relate to them more easily.

  • Hudson Warehouse, Riverside Park, (212) 560-6579, Hudsonwarehouse.net

US Festivals: New York City Events: Restaurant Week, Mermaid Parade, Tribeca Film Fest & Marathon

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick will list some of the festivals/events that took place in NYC. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Whether it’s cheap eats during Restaurant Week, Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival, Coney Island’s fancy-dress Mermaid Parade or the public lining the streets of the five boroughs for the New York Marathon, New York City events cover a broad range. Some of the best US festivals are in America’s biggest city, and these are just some of them…

US Festivals: New York City Events – Restaurant Week

The principle of Restaurant Week is quite simple – prices at many of New York’s top restaurants are slashed in order to give residents a taste for the very best food, but at affordable prices. This means that meals in New York’s top restaurants can cost between $20 and $30 – a bargain cheap eat in anyone’s book. Obviously the idea is to get people to eat out more and come back again, but to a tourist arriving in town during Restaurant Week – which is held both in February and June – it’s a food bonanza.

US Festivals: New York Events – Tribeca Film Festival

Whilst not quite up there with the Cannes Film Festival or Venice Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival is gaining gravitas very quickly. Part of this is due to its somewhat famous organiser; Robert De Niro set it up in the downtown area of Manhattan that had lost a lot of character since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre. Whilst De Niro adds a fame factor, there are other reasons for the festival’s success – there is usually an excellent line-up of films and big name premieres. The Tribeca Film Festival takes place every May.

US Festivals: New York City Events – Coney Island Mermaid Parade

One of the more surreal US festivals takes place on New York’s fun-packed Coney Island on the last Saturday in June. For no real reason (other than ‘because they can’), groups of revellers get together in mermaid outfits and then put on a mighty fine fancy-dress parade. Or should that be a mighty fin fancy-dress parade? Either way, for bizarreness value, it’s off the scale(s).

US Festivals: New York Events – New York Marathon

In terms of road-racing spectacles, only the London Marathon can compete with the New York Marathon. Held on the first weekend of every November, the marathon route takes in all five boroughs, and the public line the streets to cheer on the competitors. Over the years, the New York Marathon has become less of a race and more of a public party – although don’t tell that to the hardy souls slugging it out for 26 miles.