Small Businesses: The New Old Problem

As of recent news, the dramatic increase in the closing of ‘mom and pop’ shops have been brought to the public. Among the people looking for a solution to this “new” problem are City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker Christine Quinn, Eco-Justice Candidate Marni Halasa, Councilmember Corey Johnson and NYC’s mayor Bill de Blasio. All individuals are interested in the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) which allows for a 10-year lease for small businesses at a fair rent, the right to renew the lease and the right to negotiate on rent increases¹².

However, what constitutes as a fair rent? And if for almost 10 years the legislation was known,  why are small businesses increasingly put out of business? A fair rent could mean the rent according to the area in which the shop resides in and may be too much for the owners to pay. Or even, if mom and pop shops intend to pay small rents, then they could be redirected to poor areas in which they may also not be able to keep rent up due to lack of business. Furthermore, Bill de Blasio is known for his own public-private partnership which are partly responsible for increase rent prices and the building of edifices that take over neighborhoods. The gentrification of small businesses is the long term effect of the gentrification of people on a small scale. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in the article De Blasio eyes vacancy tax for greedy landlords seeking top-dollar, “We need to know what we are dealing with”¹. We do know what we are dealing with. Vacancy rates are at 20 to 30 percent in Manhattan’s choicest shopping districts² according to “The Death And Life of mom-and-pops”. 1,000 small businesses have closed each month, and 8,000 jobs have been lost since Mayor Bill de Blasio have been office³.

This means that the SBJSA is not the only solution to the closing of mom-and-pop shops¹¹. It is a primary solution since it would be directly opposing the control the Real Estate Board of New York has over the city, but it is the only solution. Although redundant, education is one of the most important solutions to this issue. Not enough people know about the problem, while the problem isn’t been spoken about. Furthermore, small businesses need their own voice of advocacy that has as much control or even more as the REBNY as the mayor is doing in bringing light to this issue. As mentioned by Winifred Curran¹³, the effect of closing of small businesses is a form of indirect displacement which could be potentially be solved by providing a fund to the businesses affected and to reverse the effects of big businesses. This plan needs to be properly maintained by the appropriate city offices and the public.









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