As more and more New Yorkers find employment in low-income jobs (35 percent of all New Yorkers now work jobs that pay $27,000 a year of less, according to a recent study), one of the most perplexing questions is how the city should grapple with what seems like an increasingly unworkable reality. How to address a growing percentage of New Yorkers working in jobs that don’t pay enough to live in the city?
Should the city just admit that we require the services of workers who will need some kind of public subsidy to remain in New York? Try to build enough affordable housing to meet anything close need in this city? Good luck. But what if low-income New Yorkers solved the problem of not getting paid enough by going to work for themselves?
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
It’s news certain to bring despair to vinyl aficionados, Village old-timers and anyone with a soul: cluttered, beloved West 3rd staple Bleecker Bob’s Records has closed down after 46 years. A frozen yogurt chain is slated to open in its place.
The legendary music store sold its last record this Saturday, DNAinfo reports. Which would be bad news even if the Village weren’t already inundated with frozen yogurt shops and if the funky culture purveyors that make the Village the Village hadn’t been bloodying their fingernails trying to hang onto increasingly unaffordable leases for more than a decade.
New Yorkers are accustomed to sharing things; that’s the bargain of the city—the source of its energy and so many of its frustrations. We share our ceilings and walls, our commutes and our living rooms, the meals we eat and the relatively modest patches of green that constitute our nature.
Now, because of huge rent hikes throughout the city, our businesses might need to start sharing, too. New Yorkers have long mourned the disappearance of mom-and-pops, the stores and restaurants, dive bars and old haunts that gave the streets their chaotic splendor.
When Aaron Hillis and his wife bought Cobble Hill’s Video Free Brooklyn—a well-loved but somewhat dingy relic from the age of VHS—they had rather lofty plans for the store. They would transform the outmoded space into hub of film culture that would redefine the role of the video store in the time of Netflix. It would be both a boutique offering personalized service and an event space (thanks to collapsible shelves) with screenings and discussions. But like many fledgling entrepreneurs, their plans far outpaced their pocketbooks—Mr. Hillis figured he would need about $50,000 to revamp the space.
They might have tried for a bank loan, or made do until they saved enough for the renovation, but neither option was very appealing, so the Hillises did what everyone with a creative vision and a lack of cash seems to do these days: they launched a crowdfunding campaign.
“I don’t think it’s any different or less valid than when PBS or NPR ask people to donate for a free tote bag, or the Kickstarter campaign in Detroit to build a life-size statue of RoboCop,” said Mr. Hillis, who has thus far raised about $7,000 (with two weeks to go on a $50,000 campaign) on Indiegogo. “As long as you’re transparent about where the money is going, you’re putting together something that people want to be a part of.”
Tales of Retail
When St. Vincent’s closed in the spring, it left a gaping wound in Greenwich Village. The first to feel the pain were the doctors and patients now out of a home, followed by the neighboring hospitals that were soon overwhelmed by demand.
But, according to The Daily News, the closing has had other unexpected impacts Read More
There’s just one little wrinkle to Barack Obama’s $30 billion small-business loan program: Small businesses may not want loans, and small banks don’t want to lend.
The bill, which has passed the House and now only needs Obama’s signature to become a full-on law, would provide billions of dollars to local banks to help Read More
After a long period of stagnation on the issue, the Senate today passed a bill that hopes to help small businesses by reducing their taxes and get them better access to loans. Democrats liked the $30 billion package because they wanted to seem as though they were creating jobs ahead of the midterm elections. Read More