Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Last Store Standing

In the recently concluded budget fight over wine in grocery stores, the successful opposition portrayed their fight as a defense of Mom and Pop stores on Main Street. Whatever the merits of this argument might be for the box store world of upstate New York-and, quite frankly, we don't see any-it really falls flat in the city of New York; as more and more small stores on the city's main streets succumb to economic hard times: "Bye-bye, mom and pop. Small businesses in the Bronx are disappearing, according to a report released by Rep. Anthony Weiner. It shows that 9.1%, or 105, of the 1,156 stores along seven main shopping strips in the borough have closed or are in the process of closing."

And it ain't the big boxes that are at fault in the city's small store plight: "Michael Palomba, 51, owner of Palomba Academy of Music & Dance, said he has watched his area of E. Gun Hill Road deteriorate as the Internet and chain stores grow, the economy plummets and the city makes the environment less welcoming to businesses...Palomba said the city “chokes” local businesses with regular sanitation citations, tax rate increases and fines from the Fire and Health departments."

This dire situation has led to the introduction of the Small Business Protection bill at the city council. But does anyone think that the Quinnberg administration will let this bill sail through so that the city's bodegas can get some relief? Bloomberg is no fan of the little guy; and as for Chris Quinn, how does Invasion of the Body Snatchers sound as a description of her new political persona as the mayor's handmaiden?

Will leave the last word to a Bronx bodeguero: "Waley Alzubide, 23, who owns a bodega at 900 E. Gun Hill Road, is weathering a time when goods are more expensive, people have less money to spend and stores are closing around him. He said much more will be needed to rebuild his belief in the American dream. “It doesn’t look like the America that people who come from different countries come here for,” he said. “If you have a family and you are making $600 a week, you can’t make it.”