Thursday, February 12, 2009

Save Our Stores

The real Main Street Coalition will be at City Hall today to protest the job killing taxes and regulations being proposed by Governor Paterson; the expansion of the bottle bill and the imposition of a soda tax will be in the store owners' sights. As NY1 reported yesterday (and check out the nice video): "Shops and markets across the city are getting squeezed by the economic downturn. But business owners say they are about to get hit even harder, this time by Governor David Paterson. "There is a crisis going on. We are losing supermarkets. We are losing a way of life," said Nelson Eusebio, Executive Director, National Supermarket Association."

Our city food stores are being squeezed out by high rents and city-imposed taxes-so for the bodegas, it feels as if the governor is piling on: "They are taking aim at Paterson's call to tax sugary drinks and broaden the state's bottle bill, so that stores would be required to accept empty water and juice bottles for recycling. Bodega owners say they'll lose money on the deal which will also cost consumers more."They try to add now water and juices. We can't collect money on that stuff because the problem is, we don't have the space for that," said Pedro Guzman, a store owner."

And that's why our coalition of food stores-bodegas, supermarkets and green grocers-will be down at city hall today: "On Thursday, a coalition of business groups, grocery store owners, and others will officially launch a new group -- New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes. They're asking visitors to their website to sign a petition opposing the so-called tax on sugary drinks."Can you imagine when you are going to buy a soda for $2 and then you are going to have to pay $2.50, that means you cannot buy a butter roll. You cannot buy a coffee, you cannot buy nothing if you buy one bottle," said Ramon Murphy, President, Bodega Association of the United States."

What's even more poignant is that fact that the bodega owner who NY1 interviewed is right in the heart of the governor's neighborhood-where Mr. Guzman has invested over $250,000 renovating his store, not only for himself but for his six employees and the neighborhood they serve; but all of this hard work is oblivious to the governor: "We believe that the measures included in the governor's budget will make New York a healthier state with a stronger environment, and that they will not have a major impact on the fiscal operations of the beverage industry," said Matt Anderson, a spokesperson for the state's Division of the Budget."

Notice that the governor's folks have little grasp of the economic impact on retailers. Which is why the groups will be at city hall today. Albany needs to know that the retail environment in the city is fragile; and new taxes and regulations in the middle of this severe recession is job killing and unwise. Here is the full press release for today's event.

Press Release

Press Conference on Expanded Bottle Bill and Small Business Protection

Where: City Hall Steps

When: February, 12, 2009

Time: 11:00 AM

On Thursday, February, 12, 2009, there will be a press conference held on the steps of City Hall to protest the expansion of the state’s bottle bill. The opposition will include a broad-based coalition of supermarket and bodega owners, green grocers, Hispanic-owned bottling companies, small business groups, community organizations and labor.
Some of the groups that are scheduled to appear are: The National Supermarket Association; The Bodega Association of the US; The New York Association of Convenience Stores; The Small Business Congress; The Korean-American Small Business Service Center; The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1500; The Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union; Good-O Beverage; Top Pop Beverage; Inca Kola; and Teamsters, Local 812

The press conference will focus on the crisis in neighborhood retailing-and the government’s failure to provide relief; instead, how it’s imposition of new regulations and taxes is making the plight of local businesses that much worse

All of the opposition agrees that the expansion of the bottle law-and the imposition of a so-called obesity tax- during the middle of the country’s worst recession in over fifty years would have disastrous consequences for neighborhood businesses that are already suffering-with foreclosures, evictions and bankruptcies devastating local retailers all over the city and state. (; (;

Put simply, local stores need to be nurtured with pro-growth policies that include lower tax rates, affordable rents, and fewer regulations. The bottle law, however, acts just like an unfunded mandate, with retailers bearing the cost of redemption at great expense-restricting their ability to grow employment and prosper. And the soda tax will simply burden low income shoppers, reducing the available purchasing power at a time of decreasing family incomes.

As Nelson Eusebio from the National Supermarket points out; “We simply can’t afford any more crippling government regulations and taxes. Our stores are finding it difficult enough to survive without the government adding to the cost of doing business.”

Whatever the environmental benefits that may accrue from the expansion of the current law; they don’t mitigate the severe harm that will be done to inner city stores that have no room to store containers currently covered under existing law. And these retailers certainly can’t handle an almost doubling of the containers eligible for redemption, not when they lose money on each container redeemed. (

In addition, the government’s proposed taking of the unredeemed deposit nickels will put small bottlers at risk for going out of business. As Good-O president Martin Salo says: “The unredeemed deposits are helping small companies like ours stay in business servicing the low income areas of the city. Taking these nickels, and imposing a soda tax on top, would be the death knell of Good-O and all of the other small bottlers.”

The disappearance of local supermarkets and bodegas has had a devastating impact on the workforce. Thousands of neighborhood jobs have been lost-many of them unionized workers with good benefits and a family living wage. NYC is slated to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs during the current downturn. By adding regulatory burdens and more taxes, additional jobs will be lost and the vitality of local communities will be badly hurt in the process.

Scheduled Appearances: Business

(1) Nelson Eusebio- National Supermarket Association;
(2) Ramon Murphy-Bodega Association of the United States;
(3) Jim Calvin-New York Association of Convenience Stores;
(4) Sung Soo Kim-Korean-American Small Business Service Center;
(5) Rev Carmen Hernandez-NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce;
(6) Alfredo Placeras-New York Hispanic Chambers of Commerce;
(7) Julio Coen-Inca Kola;
(8) Marlen Lugones-Top Pop;
(9) Martin Salo-Good-O Beverage.


(1) Jane Thompson-RWDSU;
(2) John O’Neil-Teamsters Local 812;
(3) Aly Wady-UFCW Local 1500;

Contact: Dr. Richard Lipsky (914-572-2865)
See also: