I’ve been a semi-regular since my 1995 arrival in the Village. In those first few years, I sublet and house-sat my way around the neighborhood. My best friend lived just around the corner. Busy as we thought our lives were at the time, we somehow had hours a day to spend at a tiny, window table drinking potfuls of tea and eating platefuls of finger sandwiches, laughing a lot, crying occasionally, and waiting for Rupert Everett to arrive so we could pretend not to notice and prove, if only to ourselves, that we were legitimately true and cool New Yorkers. We were thrown out, but only once, for inviting a friend to join us after we’d been seated for a while (Nicky’s rule #2). Rookie mistake.
We now return with our daughters who, as toddlers, were weaned on Ribena, Victoria Sandwich, and scones and jam, and as teens, have graduated to tea, Scotch eggs and bangers and mash.
We’re sadly, acutely aware that there are precious few Village spots that have remained constant through our youths and into the burgeoning adulthood of our children. It’s news to no one that maintaining a small business in the city is a challenge that only seems to be growing more intense.
Last fall the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) came back into the spotlight, debated before City Council. Articles on Manhattan Retail Blight abound—a quick Google of that term will send you down a rabbit hole of finger-pointing at greedy landlords, Amazon, and the Real Estate industry, asking you to contemplate terms like ‘ghost town’ and ‘death of retail’ and to consider the merits of commercial rent control and vacancy fees for landlords.
As a long-time Villager who also happens to work in real estate, I know many business owners as well as many landlords. The conflict cannot be distilled down to Good vs Evil. As is almost always true, the problem is complex and the solution not a quick fix. And that brings us to….Crowdfunding? At the moment, yes.