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MTA puts swanky in the subways with new approach to stores



The subways could be getting swanky soon.

The MTA is pushing for higher-end retailers to open up down below, amNewYork has learned. The agency is hoping the stores will spruce up the system and bring in some much-needed dough.

“It’s a new approach,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. “We're looking to attract a new wave of edgy and stylish vendors that put some thought into their store's design.”

Earlier this week, a high-end toy and clothing store opened in a new space at the 42nd Street and 8th Avenue station. Merwin Andrade, a city retailer who made his mark in Japan, designed the store, called GRAST, as a tribute to “the NYC underground art scene,” he said in a statement.

Prices range from $5 to $100 at the store, which is expected to expand to the Union Square and Columbus Circle stations.

“We stay pretty busy all day,” said Jun Ohki, 35, a manager. “We have all these people just coming in out of curiosity  … which is fine.”

In the last few weeks, the MTA has been “knocking on doors downtown” to find some stylish retail stores for the system, Ortiz said. Officials also hope to dress up the look of its newsstands, he said.

Some straphangers didn’t think high-end would catch on in the hot subways, but others liked the idea of being able to shop on the run.

“I think (it’s) kind of clever, said Sean Mense, 26, a Greenpoint straphanger. “You reach so many different people just because of location.”

Last year, the agency earned more than $70 million in rent and licensing fees across the system, according to MTA figures. The subways are home to 345 retail spaces. 

Tim Herrera contributed to this story


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