The Christian Science Monitor

‘We’re open for them’: The small shops in New York trying to stay afloat

Vito Mazzarino pauses in front of his family’s hardware store in New York City on May 4, 2020. S&V General Supply Co. is one of the few stores allowed to operate during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state of emergency. Source: Andrew Hohmann

People think of New York as a city of skyscrapers and high finance, but it’s the small, independent businesses that make the city run.

New York has more small, family-run enterprises than just about anywhere else in the country – some 230,000 entities that employ nearly half the city’s private workforce. Visitors who come to the city for the arts, finance, and glitz don’t see that the true pulp of New York comes from everyday butchers, bakers, dog groomers, jewelers, hardware stores, restaurants, and specialty stores that shape neighborhoods. Sometimes with just two or three workers, these merchants make the city feel more like a small town than somewhere that’s home to more than 8.3 million people.

They’re neighborhood fixtures, and too many are in dire straits because of the pandemic.

In terms of diagnoses and deaths, no city has suffered more than New York, which has had more COVID-19 cases than any foreign country except Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. With the state in its seventh week of full lockdown, temporarily shuttered businesses are at obvious risk, but so are shops that

Sales off 60%Disinfecting the inventoryLittle choice but to reopenBoard games and Zoom chatsCrotchety customers harder to find

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