New York City’s Open Storefronts program, which allows small businesses to use outdoor space in front of their stores to sell goods, has been extended through the fall of next year. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday signed an executive order extending the program, which was originally expected to end December 31, through September 30, 2021. The program will also expand the number of restaurants and retail stores that can use sidewalks to sell take-out. “We think that’s going to help them as they fight to survive in this environment,” de Blasio said Tuesday.
More than 1,000 chain stores in New York City have closed over the past year, the largest year-over-year decline in over a decade. According to the Center for an Urban Future’s annual “State of the Chains” report, nearly one out of every seven chain retailers open at this time last year is now closed, due to the coronavirus pandemic coupled with the continued growth of e-commerce. Even Dunkin’, the city’s largest retailer, closed 18 locations in 2020, the first time the coffee chain experienced a decline since CUF began tracking chains 13 years ago.
Congress on Sunday reached an agreement on a $900 billion emergency coronavirus relief package, roughly nine months after the first stimulus was signed into law. The package is expected to provide one-time direct payments of $600 to most taxpayers and provide an additional $300 per week to those unemployed. In some positive news for New York, the stimulus deal also includes $4 billion to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Save Our Stages bill, which provides funding for live performance venues, comedy clubs, and Broadway. Congress could vote on the package as early as Monday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the Phase 2 reopening with a visit to Astor Place Hairstylists on June 23, 2020. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
Another New York City institution will close its doors this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Astor Place Hairstylists in the East Village, which opened in the 1940s and is known for its affordable prices, multilingual stylists, and celebrity clientele, will shutter at the end of November, as the New York Post reported. Hair salons and barbershops were allowed to open in June as part of the city’s second phase of reopening, but a lack of business, and no additional federal funding, has forced the iconic barbershop to close.
Photo by Brianne Sperber on Wikimedia
One of New York City’s largest and most beloved independent bookstores is asking for help. Citing a decline in foot traffic, a lack of tourists, and zero in-store events because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Strand Bookstore’s revenue has dropped nearly 70 percent compared to last year, owner Nancy Bass Wyden said on Friday. According to Bass Wyden, the business, one of the last bookstores of Union Square’s former “Book Row,” is not currently sustainable.
A new initiative launched this week that aims to help New York City’s 230,000 small businesses stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NYC Small Business Resource Network connects business owners with specialists from each borough who will provide advice and access to available resources regarding challenges like loan and grant opportunities and legal and accounting services. The program aims to serve owners in the hardest-hit communities, with a focus on minority-, women-, and immigrant-owned businesses.
New York City small businesses are barely hanging on. More than 2,800 have closed permanently since March 1, the New York Times reported. And when the pandemic eventually subsides, as many as one-third of the city’s 230,000 small businesses may not reopen, according to a report from the Partnership for New York City. Despite the city reaching the final and fourth phase of reopening, the distribution of millions of dollars in aid, and creative measures to help shops survive, thousands of businesses remain at risk.
Small businesses in New York City are struggling to stay afloat, especially those still unable to reopen because of the coronavirus pandemic. A survey from the Hospitality Alliance found that only 19 percent of city businesses paid June rent and only 26 percent of landlords waived rent. Council Member Keith Powers on Monday released a report detailing ways to save small businesses and prepare for a post-COVID-19 world by providing emergency rent relief using federal funds, waiving the commercial rent tax, making outdoor dining permanent, and other measures.
Owners of six small businesses in Coney Island, Lola Star Boutique, Nathan’s Famous, Ruby’s Bar & Grill, Paul’s Daughter, Tom’s Restaurant, and the Coney Island Beach Shop, are currently negotiating new 10-year lease agreements with amusement park operator Zamperla. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the boardwalk businesses are facing rent increases of between 50 and 400 percent each. “We care about Coney Island and its future, and we are dedicated to making it as strong a community as possible,” Alessandro Zamperla, the president of the company, told the Times. “This is why we’ve been working with our tenants to ensure their success and preserve the character of Coney Island.” Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has not come forward with a plan to mediate; according to the newspaper, the rent increases do not violate the agreement between Zamperla and the city.
This past October, Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, Queens celebrated its 190th anniversary. But last week, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society reported on Twitter that the beloved and historic establishment would close its doors for good on Sunday. Originally opened in 1829 as a saloon called the “Old Blue Pump House,” Neir’s considers itself NYC’s oldest bar. When the tavern was in danger of closing in 2009, a local FDNY member and a group of friends bought and restored it, but in December of 2018, the building was sold unbeknownst to them. According to a Facebook post by Neir’s, they were unable to negotiate a new “affordable long-term lease” with the new owners. But when Mayor de Blasio heard the news, he and the city stepped in and saved the bar from closing.