Wednesday, October 29, 2014


One of the many, many pleasures of Sunset Park is the good number of small, independent retailers that operate along the avenues.  This is what helps to keep a neighborhood vibrant, distinct in character from other parts of the city.  This is what keeps a neighborhood local.  But with a rush of new industry & business activity at its western & eastern borders (good if it brings more local jobs), and with soaring real estate prices changing the area's demographics, this puts more and more pressure on the current small businesses to survive.  More expensive housing brings more expensive retail rents too, which means out with the local & in with the chain stores in (hello, newest Checkers), and inevitably, down the line, the upscale wine stores and boutiques.  Retailers who own their own property are able to survive change more easily, of course, but the city has to find a way to rein in the savage rent hikes that many business owners (& residents) will increasingly face.  Change is inevitable, but rapid change that takes no account of the people and businesses already there, who have few safeguards to protect their homes or livelihoods, is a brutal thing.

As I've walked along Fifth Avenue recently, I've seen more and more shuttered stores, sometimes a few on just one block, like 39th to 40th.  The inside of this store (40th & Fifth) is currently being gutted.

It's sad, too, to see the hand-painted store-signs, always more beautiful than vinyl awnings, disappearing one by one. There are plenty still in Sunset Park, but mostly on older businesses, some of which are simply aging out after a long run. I wish this art could be revived.

Time for the dumpster at the insurance shop

On a positive note, here's Sam's, looking as lovely as ever.

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