Mayor de Blasio has signed an Executive Order to expand the popular Open Restaurants program to include retail stores. The surprise announcement came at his press conference at City Hall this morning.
Over 200,000 businesses will receive an email today from New York City Small Business Services explaining how the new program will work on the streets.
With shops usually doing more than two-thirds of their business at this time of year, the plan is being welcomed by shop owners.
When we contacted Matt Fox at Fine and Dandy, he’d not heard of the initiative. However, he told us: “As small business owners, we need to be creative and think outside of the box to stay in business. I welcome any tools the city can provide to help us do that. Even more helpful would be campaigns to shop small and shop local, encouraging New Yorkers to keep their dollars local rather than giving them to Amazon.”
Along W49th Street at November 19, owner Clark Chung welcomed the plan but was concerned about staffing and security implications at his small store. “I think this is a great idea. I do think it can only apply to some stores that have additional staff,” he told us. “With the uptick in crime, you will need extra staff to be outside to watch the merchandise. Otherwise, I think this is a fun idea and also gets people to notice the shops.”
“Couture du Jour has been a part of the Hell’s Kitchen/NYC small business community since 2006, as a retailer, but also as a gathering place for our diverse clientele,” Dionne Figgins from Couture du Jour, on W44th Street between 8/9th Avenue, told us. “While I am very saddened to see so many long-standing and new small businesses closing due to the challenges this pandemic has caused, it’s also encouraging to see New Yorkers supporting small local businesses, and I hope that these surviving businesses begin to see their storefronts thrive like never before because of that support. We hope to be one of those surviving businesses, a place to build your wardrobe, but also to build your community.“
The Mayor encouraged New Yorkers to “patronize our local businesses.” He added: “We all appreciate the amazing stuff available online, but let’s really double down on our local businesses here in this city. Let’s give them the business. They need to survive. This is going to be the toughest year for small business. This holiday season is something that really needs to be good and strong for them. We all can make a difference by buying local.”
The restrictions are much tighter than for the Open Restaurant program. All materials (like tents and umbrellas) that go out on the street must be brought indoors each evening, and there will be no use of the roadway allowed unless it’s an Open Street (like Restaurant Row).
There is a website with all the details of how shops can take part in the program.