“The damage has already been done,” said Ellen Rand, who owns Gallery 101 on Grand Street.
The MTA closed the L train for the opening two weekends of the gallery season, which follow Labor Day in September, she said.
“How can critics come, how can visitors come, how can buyers come?” Rand asked. “You send out all of this stuff and you make a big deal, and then there's no way to get here.”
The L train was closed most weekends since September due to maintenance work.
“Typically, the work is done on weekends in order to minimize the number of customers that are impacted,” Kevin Ortiz, an MTA representative, said. “We work hard to take community needs into consideration and recently announced a new program that is designed to limit impact by concentrating some construction in overnight periods during the week.”
The closures are over, with the exception of one weekend in late February and another in mid-March, he said.
Kathleen Vance, who curates with Daniel Aycock at the Front Room Gallery located at 147 Roebling Street, a few blocks from Rand, said the MTA should make a better effort to notify the community when a train will close and reopen.
Galleries and other small businesses rely on the weekends when visitors and shoppers are off from work, they said.
“They don't make any prior announcements for it to at least let us know what the schedule is so we can figure something out,” Vance said.
In addition, she said closing a train several weekends in a row deters people from trying again to visit a neighborhood.
“These trains probably get a similar amount of use on the weekends as they do during the weekdays,” Aycock said. “Williamsburg is kind of like this weekend community, it's a destination.”
Lexi Oliveri, who opened Antoinette, a vintage shop up the block from Gallery 101, six months ago, said shutting down the L train on Black Friday weekend was devastating to small retail shops located along the line.
“The traffic was completely down that weekend,” Oliveri said.
Although the J, M and Z trains also access the area, their station is a long walk from most parts of Williamsburg. In addition, closing the L train affects businesses in Greenpoint because commuters from Manhattan transfer to the G train at the Lorimer Street stop, she said.
Oliveri is concerned about the L train closure in late February because there is a second Vintage Crawl, a shopping event in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, scheduled for that time.
The best solution is to shut down the L train late at night during the week, she said.
“February is a month for retailers that is not a strong month as it is,” Oliveri said. “So the little traffic we do get from the L train is going to help us survive through the winter.”