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Small Business, Big History, and More

We know you love to support small, local, independent businesses. And we do too. And as the recent NY Times editorial put it this past weekend: “In the darkest days of the pandemic this year, it was New York’s small businesses — its coffee shops and restaurants, groceries and bakeries — that remained open, serving up comfort and normalcy to millions who sorely needed them. Now they need our help in return.

Cho’s Grocery, 58 Carmine Street. Photo by and thanks to Suzanne Schein.

We continue to add new local independent businesses to our “Small Business/Big History” signage program, in which we are partnering with great local businesses to promote neighborhood history and the wonderful services and products they offer.

Carmine Street Beers, 52 A Carmine Street. Photo by and thanks to Suzanne Schein.

You can take a tour in person or virtually, and learn a thing or two about the history of these buildings, streets, and neighborhoods, and at the same time make a purchase and support a great local business. Check them all out on our map here, and just click on each business to learn more history.

Example of the “Small Business, Big History” signs you might see around the neighborhood.

Local independent businesses are the backbone of our communities, and many are struggling now just to stay alive. The last two months of the year often provides a large portion of the income — in some cases more than half of their annual revenue — for many small businesses. So please consider making a purchase to help keep them going. Skip Amazon, and shop local — in store, or on their website, if they have one.

The Original Sandwich Shoppe, 58 Greenwich Avenue. Photo by and thanks to Suzanne Schein.

Here is an example of the history we uncover, this for the piuece up at The Sandwich Shoppe:

“These three mid 19th c. buildings share a new common cornice with a uniquely striking undulating profile, added some time in the mid-20th century. In the 18th century Greenwich Avenue was known as Greenwich Lane or Road, and ran from Broadway in the east to the Hudson River along an irregular path. Other sections of the street were closed or renamed, while the central section became Greenwich Avenue in 1843. Like nearby Christopher Street, Greenwich Road was originally a boundary of Sir Peter Warren’s estate. Greenwich Avenue serves as the dividing line between the orthogonal Manhattan Street grid of traditional east-west streets and north-south Avenues to its north and east, and the older irregular street pattern of Greenwich Village oriented towards the Hudson River, located to its south and west.”

With a 1940’s photo that shows the time before the roofline was undulating:

On a related note, some of us will join our friends at East Village Community Coalition for a virtual curator talk with James and Karla Murray, as they show work created by participants of their 2020 Mom and Pop Storefronts Workshops, currently on exhibit at the Tompkins Square Library’s East Village Arts Festival. Please register in advance to receive the Zoom link!

From the NYPL website.

Besides promoting the unique and wonderful local shops that serve our needs and enliven our streets, Village Preservation also advocates for legislation that helps small businesses, and you can too.

As we know, the plight of local small businesses and non-profit institutions right now is challenging to say the least.  Forced to close in the interest of collective health and safety or limit access due to the pandemic, many have lost significant income or shut down permanently.  Storefronts are emptying, harming communities, neighbors, and property owners.

Village Preservation is working with a coalition of local merchants, non-profits, elected officials, and property owners to address this problem.  The ‘Save Our Storefronts’ (S.O.S.) coalition has proposed legislation, introduced by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (S.8865/A.10901), that would help cover the cost of rent for COVID-19 affected businesses and non-profits using State and Federal funds, while requiring the small business or non-profit and the property owner to share the burden of the shortfall. 

Certified COVID-19 affected tenants would have to pay the lesser of 20% of their income or 1/3 of their rent, property owners would have to forgive 20% of the rent, and the State, using federal funds that might be more likely with the incoming Administration, would pay the remainder. More on that legislation and campaign here, and send a letter to elected officials urging they support it here.

However you chose to help — making a purchase at one of these Small Business/Big History locations, supporting the Save Our Storefronts legislation, or both — now’s the time to do it. Too many of our local small businesses are hanging on by a thread, and your purchase or letter could be the difference between making it through and shutting their doors forever.

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