Mom and Pop Stores: Do They Exist in NY?

It’s common knowledge that small, individually owned businesses—affectionately named “mom and pop shops”—have been replaced by large franchises.

New York, like many big cities, has experienced this trend. Rising real estate costs have driven out many small business owners. As these stores vanish, they often take personal histories with them.

One NY couple, Karla and James Murray, have been documenting this evolution through a project titled Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York City. This couple have compiled pictures and interviews of mom and pop stores since the 1990s.

“And sadly in 2018, it’s over 80 percent that are closed now that are included in the book,” Karla says sadly.

The couple have also created a sculptural installation of mom and pop stores inside Seward Park in NYC.

Other New Yorkers, who develop friendly connections with personnel at larger chain stores, are unfazed by this phenomenon. “Some franchising gets a bad rap, but that person is still a small-business owner,” said John Armstrong, the owner of the franchising consulting firm FranNet of New York City. “They’re still putting in their capital, time and effort — they’re just going a different route.”

Hedvig Hricak Receives David Rall Medal

In 2002, Hedvig Hricak was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies – America’s “most prestigious medical society.”  Since then her work in the field has given rise to significant recognition, as her recent acceptance of the David Rall Medal illustrates. (Hedvig Hricak‘s bio from the European Society of Radiology.)

The medal – “awarded to a member of the National Academy of Medicine who has demonstrated particularly distinguished leadership as a chair of a study committee or other such activities in a manner that was particularly exemplary, demonstrating a commitment substantially above and beyond the usual expectations of a committee chair” – was presented to Hedvig Hricak in recognition of her “valuable contributions to the activities and efforts of the NAM and National Academies.”

The two other honorees this year were Elaine L. Larson and Nicholas Peppas.  Larson holds a few roles including: senior associate dean of scholarship and research,  Anna C. Maxwell Professor of Nursing Research, and Columbia Professor of Epidemiology.  Peppas is: a professor and director of the Institute for Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, and Regenerative Medicine and the Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering #6 at Texas University.

 

 

 

New York Rentals

Between 1945-63, there were commercial rent controls in the city of New York.  That has long gone so how are small businesses in the region meant to thrive? Indeed, in 2016 Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce member Patricia Dorfman said:

“It feels as though a great tsunami is coming towards us: big real estate dominating the city. You’re talking about life rafts and water wings when a tsunami is coming.”

So what plans are there to rectify this?  At the end of next month the plan is for a hearing to be held on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), a Bill sponsored by Ydanis Rodriguez.  Should it come to fruition it would mean landlords would have to give commercial tenants 180 days before lease expiration on whether it will be renewed and if not, provide a “valid legal reason.”  A 10 year lease could also be offered, thus putting tenants in a more powerful position to “demand arbitration if they believe the rent increase is too much.”

According to Friends of SBJSA member David Eisenbach there is “extreme optimism that the essential principles of the bill will remain intact.”

It is hoped that the hearing will provide an opportunity for policymakers to hear real stories about the closing of small businesses in New York City due to lack of control over rent increases.

Before getting too excited though, according to a recent article in The Real Deal by David Jeans, the law: “would not stand up in court…lacks legal grounding and has been proposed several times in the past.”  It would also cause “inconsistencies with state law.”

Tech Success in NYC

As Sam Natapoff recently explained in an article in Salon, “Fifteen years ago, New York City was a tech afterthought.” A lot has changed though over the last decade and a half with it being ranked as “the second highest performing startup ecosystem in the world after Silicon Valley.” Statistics show that New York City features:

  • More than 280,000 tech jobs in the city
  • More than 128,000 tech jobs in the state
  • A 57% increase in tech employment between 2010-16
  • 7 meter square feet of Manhattan office space occupied by tech tenants in 2016
  • 7,500 New York based tech companies (23% increase since 2010)

And even more than that, New York is actually beating Silicon Valley in some sub-industries.

New York has successfully resuscitated its economy resulting in the recruitment of human capital and the promotion of technology and VC financing.  What’s also impressive is that New York has done this without having “a strong engineering base;” rather, it utilized “the natural strengths of its existing economy, its diverse industry base, its human capital diversity, and its desirability as a place to live.”

New York has always had a good business background.  According to an article by Gerrit De Vynck and Julie Verhage earlier this year part of the city’s success can be attributed to diversity vis-à-vis gender and race as well as “the metropolis’s centuries-old status as a center of global commerce. New York provides a contrast to Silicon Valley, which has been criticized for tunnel vision, being insular, out of touch with the rest of the country and overly homogeneous–both company employees and the people for whom they create products.”

Can You Afford to Live in NYC?

A recent report from SmartAsset showed that those living in a 2 bedroom New York apartment need to make $164,614 per annum.  Median Manhattan rentals are $3,450 and the median cost of buying is $1,315,700.  While that figure has dropped 1.0 percent in the last year it is estimated that it will increase 2.5% within the following year.

So it’s not cheap to live in New York.  However, jobs in the city are generally high paying.  Indeed, according to recent analysis from Ladders, New York has the second highest number of six figure jobs.  As well, companies around the world offer high salaries to people who will work for them and live in New York.

So can someone like 32 year old Alicia Kennedy — a freelancer NYC food blogger — make it in NYC?  Three years ago when she first went freelance (having left a steady copy editor position at New York Magazine), the $5,000 tax bill was quite a surprise.  She’d miscalculated at $3,000.  Anyway this is how she makes it.  She spends:

  1. $1,000 on rent
  2. $1,000 on food (don’t forget she’s a food blogger)
  3. $250 monthly student loan repayments
  4. $150 on phone
  5. $15 on gym
  6. $150 in a monthly savings account.
  7. $200 miscellaneous (incl. transportation, charitable donations, credit card, leisure).

So Alicia is successfully living in NYC even though she’s far from a six figure salary!

Brooklyn Business Bolstering

“Brooklyn where small businesses are getting a facelift to help attract more customers.” 5 businesses revealed what they are doing to turn things around for themselves. Here, NYC’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) partnered with Citi Community Development and the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to get the scoop.

Networking, Networking, Networking

In a recent Forbes article, seven Forbes New York Business Council members put out their recommendations for New York annual events they find useful:

  1. Philip Smith of PJP Marketing Inc. recommends the Affiliate Summit East for digital marketing
  2. Henry Croft of Henry’s recommends the annual Raw Wine fair for networking in the industry.
  3. Yana Zaidiner of Token Payments Inc. says New York has too many wonderful opportunities to just recommend one and that it really is industry dependent.
  4. Steven Libman of Integrity Holdings Group, LLC recommends his annual joint chamber event on the beach attended by local chambers of commerce for networking and fun.
  5. Peter Renzulli of Bookkeepers To Go Inc., likes the Casino Night for Garden of Dreams event.
  6. Sergio Mannio of Sergio Mannio Studio believes the NYCxDESIGN provides a wonderful way for designers to see what others are doing locally and globally.
  7. Yasir Ali of Rivews recommends industry-based events such as those on Facebook, Meetup and Eventbrite.