Regardless of gloomy predictions in regards to the finish of New York Metropolis, vitality is returning to the streets we love. The acquainted rhythms of the 5 boroughs are within the air. And but, on the bottom, all will not be properly.
It’s not simply COVID-19 variants bringing uncertainty again. New York’s small companies stay in grave hazard. Of the greater than 200,000 companies in our metropolis, 98 p.c have fewer than 100 workers and 89 p.c have fewer than 20 workers, however collectively they characterize greater than 50 p.c of our jobs. Whereas clients are certainly returning — albeit extra slowly than anticipated — many of those companies are already gone. In the meantime, an enormous the rest had been shielded from eviction by authorities mandate, and now the lease is coming due.
These ground-floor retail retailers, hair salons, dry cleaners and the like have been by no means constructed for this sort of disaster. Most misplaced a 12 months or so of income, whereas clients fled to (and a few nonetheless stay in) Florida, Aspen, LA and elsewhere. The brand new people shifting into city haven’t but developed a bond with them. In consequence, the Partnership for New York Metropolis predicted that as many as a 3rd of the 200,000+ small companies in pre-pandemic NYC might by no means reopen.
What are we to do, as devoted New Yorkers? The reality is, I care about all of New York, and I wager you do too. However I desperately need Tal Bagels on 54th and 1st to outlive. That’s my bagel place, they know my order, and I’d be devastated in the event that they disappeared. Identical with Vera’s Shoe Restore on fifty fifth and 2nd and Ambassador Wines down the block. How about VB Salon, the place the crew has loyally cared for my hair over greater than 15 years? See, New Yorkers are intensely neighborhood-focused — it’s simply that our neighborhoods are even smaller than most individuals suppose. Our lives play out inside a one or two block radius. All of us have our particular locations.
After all, you’ll be able to help your native retailer by spending cash at that particular spot. However these companies don’t have big margins. Shopping for a cup of espresso at your favourite nook cafe at the moment will assist the proprietor make this month’s payroll and lease, however might not backfill final 12 months’s disastrous hole. With a variety of patrons merely not again in NYC but or not frequenting sure locales (Midtown, for instance), they’re nonetheless not seeing the foot visitors they want. You might simply go away a huge tip or drop by with an envelope of money in some unspecified time in the future, however most of us aren’t doing that.
I’m a enterprise capitalist, and if there’s one factor I do know, it’s how know-how, when mixed with resilience and the generosity of a inhabitants like ours, can remedy issues. So final fall, I began calling just a few mates within the worlds of know-how, advertising and growth and got here up with an answer.
We got here up with an internet site — saveyourcity.nyc — launching at the moment, Small Enterprise Saturday, which is able to enable everybody to help their favourite companies with only a few clicks.
The positioning will immediate you to pick out your favourite companies (or nominate them to the location when you don’t see them). You’ll be able to choose an quantity to donate and the best way to unfold it out amongst these companies. Our web site will affirm that these are actual locations, assembly our eligibility standards for small NYC enterprise, and problem your funds through Stripe. If for some motive we are able to’t find the companies you specify, we donate the steadiness to the Partnership for New York Metropolis, which builds partnerships between companies and authorities to make NYC stronger. The entire course of takes minutes and may be completed from wherever you’re (Aspen exiles, I’m taking a look at you). We make no wage or revenue from any of this; it’s a labor of affection for NYC.
The fantastic thing about this answer is its simplicity. You get to help your favourite spots, all from the consolation of your system. The companies get a grant that helps backfill the devastation of final 12 months (most of them don’t want loopy sums of cash, only a few grand). The buildings get wholesome retail tenants and completely happy inhabitants, and our neighborhoods keep vibrant.
Can we assure that these enterprise homeowners gained’t purchase a Ferrari with the reduction cash? We’re asking them to pledge to a code of honor, however we’re a small volunteer group, so the reply isn’t any. However, let’s face it, that’s not who New York enterprise homeowners are. These are the folks who personal the spots you like.
In accordance with NY state, 80 p.c of those companies nonetheless report a damaging impression from the lockdowns even one 12 months later. Actually small companies acquired solely about 16 p.c of all federal PPP loans delivered to NYC by December of 2020 — about $3 billion whole, far much less than the massive firms and chains.
As life and visitors return to our nice metropolis, let’s not go away the small companies we love behind. Now there’s a method to Save Our Metropolis collectively, one beloved enterprise at a time.
Oliver Libby is the co-founder and managing associate of enterprise agency H/L Ventures and one of many founders of Save Our Metropolis.