Cooling outdoors lands stores in hot water

Store owners that pump cool air outside to lure overheated customers into stores now face hefty fines.

By Jenni Spinner August 26, 2008

It’s a common practice, in New York City and other cites across the country: pumping cool air outside a store through open doors, to lure passing shoppers in with the promise of respite from the heat. Now, the City Council has overwhelmingly passed legislation that levies heavy penalties against proprietors who repeat the offense.

According to the New York Times , the bill affects stores measuring 4,000 sq ft or more, and smaller chain stores with five or more locations within city boundaries. The Department of Consumer Affars will issue a warning upon the first violation. A second offense will garner a $200 penalty, and any subsequent violation nets the store $400 each time.

In addition to the fines, the practice puts a drain on stores’ energy bills. According to Norwalk, Conn.-based building systems consultants Steven Winter Associates, a 5,000-sq-ft store that violates the rule forks over $380 extra over the course of the summer season; a 10,000-sq-ft store would spend an additional $1,000.