Saving Our Small Businesses
Almost every day, we hear about another local small business in our neighborhood shutting its doors for good. Too often they are being replaced by chain stores, or the space is left empty indefinitely. While there has also been some good news on this front lately, overall, the picture for our neighborhoods has not been good.
While there is no single simple answer, there are things we can do to help. Here’s just a few ways:
Supporting the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) – GVSHP has long called for the City Council to hear and pass this bill which would help small businesses to be able to negotiate long-term leases with landlords. Even though a majority of the City Council sponsored the legislation, it never received a hearing, much less a vote, in the City Council. GVSHP recently penned an op-ed calling for the new City Council to finally move ahead with considering the bill – read it here. In recent days, new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has reiterated his commitment to allow a hearing on the bill in the City Council – a huge step forward.
Support local small businesses – The single most important thing you as an individual can do to support local small businesses is to shop there. To help with this, GVSHP has a ‘Business of the Month’ program, in which we celebrate a different local small business each month, highlighting the special story behind the owners and the services, products, or space they provide. Our January Business of the Month is Eva’s Kitchen at 11 West 8th Street – an immigrant family-owned business about to mark forty years of serving healthy and delicious Mediterranean-style food, since before “health food” or “Mediterranean diet” were ubiquitous buzzwords – read about them here. Share the post about this or any of our dozens of other Businesses of the Month, a list of which can be found here, and a map of which can be found here.
Seeking Neighborhood Zoning Protections that Limit Chain Stores – GVSHP is working with allied groups to try to secure a ‘Special District’ designation that would limit where chain stores can locate in the East Village, as well as how large they can be or how many can be located there. While other cities have enacted such measures, New York City has not, and there is strong support from local groups, including merchants, in the East Village for such a measure. We are hopeful that if we are successful in the East Village, we may be able to secure such designations in other parts of our neighborhood as well.
GVSHP is also working with other community groups and our allies in government on other measures which could help local small businesses, such as disincentivizing landlords keeping storefronts empty for extended periods of time when there are businesses which are in need of such space.
Our small local businesses are the heart of our neighborhoods. It’s worth fighting to protect them.