BIG BOX VS. MOM & POP

As part of our “Chasing the Dream Initiative: Poverty and Opportunity in America,” we take a look at the big box battle against small businesses. Here in New York City the east village is losing part of its community, one mom and pop shop at a time. CtD-Logo2


Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

 

Aired on March 22, June 8, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> SMALL MOM AND POP STORES ARE A HALLMARK OF NEW YORK CITY LIVING, BUT CHANGING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR AS WELL AS RISING RENTS ARE FORCING MANY OF THEIR STORES TO CLOSE THEIR DOORS AND IN MANY CASES THEY CAN LIE VACANT FOR YEARS.

WE WENT TO NEW YORK'S EAST VILLAGE, ASKING RESIDENTS HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT LOSING THESE ONE-TIME STAPLES OF THEIR COMMUNITY.

YOU KNOW THEM, THEY'RE PART OF YOUR COMMUNITY.

THEY LIVED JUST ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE SHUTTERED CLAY WORKS THAT WAS ON 39th STREET FOR 34 YEARS, THE SPACE HAS BEEN VACANT SINCE IT CLOSED LAST YEAR.

THE ARGYLE NEXT TO IT IS ALSO EMPTY.

THEY AGREE, SHOPS COMING AND GOING IS PART OF THE LIFE OF SMALL BUSINESSES.

BUT THEY'RE BEING REPLACED BY CHAINS IF AT ALL.

IT'S LIKE BIG BOX MAKING ALL THE MONEY AND GOING SOMEWHERE.

MELANIE COPPER SMITH RUNS COBBLESTONE, SHE'S ONE OF MANY SMALL BUSINESSES AND HER BOUTIQUE IS ONE OF THE LONGEST RUNNING STORES ON THE BLOCK.

MY VIEW IS YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO TO THE OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL THE SAME.

YOU GOT YOUR BANKS, BUT THE THINGS THAT MAKES NEW YORK GREAT, THAT'S ALL BEING TAKE ON AWAY, YOU KNOW?

HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IS HAVING THESE SMALL MOM AND POP SHOPS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO LIVE?

I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

TO ME ESPECIALLY A BIG PLACE LIKE MANHATTAN THAT CAN BE VERY COLD AND LONELY IN SOME WAYS.

AND CONTINUITY IS VERY IMPORTANT.

SOME HAVE TOYED WITH THE IDEA OF REZONING THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO KEEP BIG BOX STORES OUT.

WHETHER WE CAN PASS LEGISLATION WHETHER IT CAN BE PASSED ON TO THE SENATE OR WE'RE LOOKING AT THE 20th CENTURY SMALL BUSINESS SURVIVAL ACT.

WE'RE LOOKING AT A SPECIAL DISTRICT OVERLAY TO LIMIT THE SIZE OF STORE FRONTS AND MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE ATTRACTING RETAIL THAT IS DIVERSE, AFFORDABLE AND PROMPT.

RIGHT NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT A LOT OF ART GALLERIES, EATING AND DRINKING ESTABLISHMENTS.

SOME OF THE REASONS IS THOSE DON'T OPEN UNTIL THE NIGHTTIME.

THAT MAKES IT LESS APPEALING FOR PEOPLE TO COME HERE AND WANT TO SHOP.

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THE EAST SIDE --

A LOT OF WHAT WE DO IN COMMUNITY BOARD THREE IS TRY TO CONNECT BUSINESSES TO SOME OF OUR CITY AGENCIES THAT PROVIDE FREE SERVICES, LIKE THE SMALL BUSINESS SERVICES WOULD HAVE FREE LEGAL HELP.

LAST YEAR THE AGENCY THAT THAT CONNECTING ENTREPRENEURS TO $30 MILLION IN CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTING THE CITY'S SMALL BUSINESSES.

THE MOST IMPORTANT IS THAT CONSUMER BEHAVIOR IS CHANGING.

SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT SMALL BUSINESSES KNOW HOW TO MARKET THEIR SMALL BUSINESS AND CONNECT WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY.

BECAUSE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE.

THEY KNOW THE COMMUNITY, THEY KNOW THEIR CUSTOMERS.

BWHEN WE FIRST OPENED, WE WEE MORE LIKE A CANDY STORE, WE HAD CIGARETTES, LOTTERY TICKETS, NEWSPAPERS, ALL KINDS OF LITTLE THINGS THAT -- BECAUSE WE WERE BASICALLY JUST SURVIVISURVIVING WOULD SELL ANYTHING WE COULD TO PROVIDE.

PEOPLE ALWAYS LIKED THE HOME MADE HONEST SIMPLE EUROPEAN FOO.

SO I SLOWLY LOOK IT IN THAT DIRECTION.

HE'S HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING LANDLORD.

OUR LANDLORD IS A UKRAINIAN NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION, AND OBVIOUSLY WE VALUE HAVING THEM AS A LANDLORD.

BUT FOR MANY SMALL BUSINESSES, THE SPECTOR OF DRAMATICALLY INCREASED RENTS LOOMS LARGE AND SHUTTERED BUSINESSES ARE A SIGNAL OF WHAT'S DOWN THE PIKE.

THIS IS JAMES AND CARLA MURRAY, THEY PUBLISHED THREE BOOKS ON IT.

IN THE TIME IT TOOK US TO COMPILE THE BOOK, THE PHOTOS FROM OUR FIRST BOOK WHICH CAME OUT IN 2008, ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF THE BUSINESSES THAT WE HAD DOCUMENTED AT THAT POINT THAT MADE IT IN THE BOOK CLOSED.

TODAY IT'S OVER 80% HAVE CLOSED SINCE THAT FIRST BOOK.

SO FROM 2008 TO 2018, WE WENT FROM 30% TO OVER 80%, AND THAT NUMBER IS INCREASING ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS.

INITIALLY THEY STARTED TAKING PHOTOS OF STORE FRONTS, BUT QUICKLY LEARNED THEY WERE CAPTURING A FADING HISTORY.

WE ARE TRYING TO CELEBRATE THE ONES THAT WERE STILL OPEN, BECAUSE WE DIDN'T TAKE PICTURES OF CLOSED STORES, WE TOOK PICTURES OF OPEN VIBRANT BUSINESSES.

IT'S AN OLD ITALIAN FAMILY BUSINESS, AND HE TOLD US THAT IF HE'S EVER -- IF THE RENT EVER GETS TOO MUCH FOR HIM, THAT'S IT, HE'S CLOSING THE BUSINESS, BECAUSE HE CAN'T MOVE ANYWHERE, THE RENTS ARE HIGH EVERYWHERE.

NIAM DOUGLAS FOR 'METROFOCUS.'

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