New York City bodegas and delis are fighting back against 15-minute delivery startups. A group representing local grocers, the Save Mom-and-Pop Business Coalition, rallied on Sunday with elected officials, calling out the venture capitalist-backed services they say threaten the city’s small businesses. The rally took place outside of Stop 1 Deli, a Lower East Side bodega located directly across the street from GoPuff, one of the delivery services in question. Delivery services like GoPuff have moved into large spaces on commercial strips, morphing them into warehouses stuffed with groceries and other goods.
Photos © James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft
Four months after they announced their imminent closing, Yorkville’s 116-year-old German bakery Glaser’s will serve its final treats this Sunday. They shared the news via a bittersweet Facebook post that read, “After many years of daunting hours and hard work, the third generation of bakers have come to the difficult decision to hang up their bakers’ hat and move towards retirement.” Since last weekend, the lines have been wrapping around the block, with the bakers whipping up 1,650 of their black-and-white cookies at a time (they’re widely regarded as the original and the best in the city).
When 6sqft met with Herb Glaser, the third-generation co-owner of Yorkville’s 116-year-old German bakery Glaser’s, he attributed the business’ longevity to the fact that his grandfather “had the foresight and the ability to buy the building that we are in.” So it came as a bit of a surprise when we learned over the weekend that the beloved bake shop will be closing its doors this summer. A bittersweet Facebook post stated that “After many years of daunting hours and hard work, the third generation of bakers have come to the difficult decision to hang up their bakers’ hat and move towards retirement.”
Image via Bodega
The loss of small businesses throughout cities nationwide is already an escalating issue to rising rents and online delivery platforms, but more and more new physical business models are also looking to edge out mom-and-pops and brick-and-mortar retail establishments in general. Take for example a new startup called Bodega, which, you guessed it, wants to replace your actual bodega (they’ve even made their logo a “bodega cat”). Started by two former Google employees, the concept puts unmanned pantries in offices, gyms, dorms, or apartment buildings and stocks them with convenience store staples like non-perishable snacks and beverages, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and even fitness equipment, using a special computer vision system to track purchases (h/t Fast Company).
Put your favorite local, non-franchise businesses “on the map” and help them apply for a share of a $1.8 million grant. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Small Business Services have announced the launch of “NYC Love Your Local,” a new opportunity to celebrate and promote the city’s many independent small businesses. The program allows New Yorkers to add their favorite mom-and-pop shops to an interactive map so they can get funding and access to expert advice.
It seems that every day we’re hearing of small businesses being forced to move or shut down altogether due to rising rents in just about every corner of the city. Even icons like St. Mark’s Bookshop and Other Music have packed it in after years at their well-loved locations. And new businesses have an even tougher road ahead, trying to gain a foothold in changing neighborhoods where landlords hope change brings high-paying tenants.
There are a number of grassroots efforts in the works to help businesses gain and maintain a foothold when faced with skyrocketing rents and challenging regulatory hurdles–and more help may be on the way. DNAInfo reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign legislation Tuesday that prevents harassment of commercial tenants by greedy landlords. Advocates hope the new law will make it less difficult for small businesses to thrive and grow.
The Times highlights the plight of the city’s iconic local bodegas, tiny grocery-slash-beer-slash-whatever-the-local-patrons-need shops that have long been a colorful cornerstone of everyday life in the city’s neighborhoods. Photographer Gail Victoria Braddock Quagliata even spent nine months pounding the pavements of Manhattan in a quest to photograph every single one of its bodegas.
But many of these tiny shops have been scrambling to stay in business. The city’s roughly 12,000 bodegas are losing customers. About 75 have closed this year according to the Times, many in uptown neighborhoods like Inwood, Washington Heights and Harlem. Though that proportion is small, many shop owners are concerned.