Supporting Small Businesses
Did you know that for many local small businesses, more than half their revenue is generated in November and December, which brings them into the black for the year and allows them to stay afloat? This is especially true for sales-based businesses like bookstores. So please consider supporting neighborhood small businesses this time of year, especially this year – we want them around in 2021 and beyond!
Here’s a few ways we’re trying to help:
Small Business/Big History Tour
We’re partnering with some great local independent businesses for a signage program to promote foot traffic and patronage, while also spreading knowledge about our neighborhoods’ rich history. Go to any of the local businesses in the map below and check their storefronts for their “Small Business/Big History” signage with great stories connected to their building, street, or immediate vicinity, and while you’re there, do some shopping or make a purchase.
We’ve long known that small businesses and historic preservation go hand in hand, with one supporting the other – check out our “Small Businesses Thrive in Landmarked Areas” video series and our survey showing lower retail vacancy rates in landmarked areas. Are you a small business that would like to participate in our Small Business/Big History signage program, and get free promotion via our e-newsletter and social media channels? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save our Storefronts Legislation
With winter coming and an expected increase in COVID-19 cases and possible new restrictions on dining and gathering, it’s more important than ever that we help local small businesses who can’t meet their rent. That’s why we’re supporting the Save Our Storefronts (S.O.S.) legislation in Albany, introduced by local State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, which would provide relief to both COVID-affected small businesses and property owners when storefront businesses can’t pay the full rent, splitting the burden between the business, the property owner, and the government to cover the shortfall. The bill has strong support from local businesses and property owners, and increasing support from legislators in Albany.
Looking Towards the Future
Village Preservation strongly supports emergency measures taken to support local small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as allowing outdoor dining or other business as a temporary measure to help make up for necessary restrictions on indoor dining and other activities. And we believe some of these may make sense as a longer-term or even permanent addition to our city in the right locations and under the right guidelines.
But we’re also very wary of a one-size-fits-all, across-the-board approach to permanent changes, especially in residential neighborhoods and areas. What might be welcome or necessary as a temporary measure to help struggling small businesses during a health emergency may not make sense as a permanent change in every location. Our public space is limited and precious, and should be available to everyone. And it’s critical that we maintain quality of life for residents, who may have to deal with increased noise or other challenges from permanent commercial use of space outside their windows.
Read our letter to city officials urging a carefully considered, case-by-case approach to long-term use of outdoor space for commercial purposes here.