Don’t want another Starbucks in your hood? Learn how to protect small businesses with TakeBackNYC

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Future site of a Walgreens? Image via Flickr user Kevin O’Mara

We know how exciting you might be about the new coffee shop opening right down the block from you; even though you already have three or four no more than a block away from you already. Sure, that new Mexican place sounds fun, but your also really need to replace the zipper on your favorite boots, but whatever happened to that cobbler who use to work, oh that’s right that’s where the new coffee shop is now. Oh what’s this? Your lease is up in a few weeks and the landlord is raising your rent by more than what you expect, and the money you make from selling art and working in a small art gallery (which is also struggling not to lose their lease) is not enough. Perhaps after you pay almost $20 for lunch tomorrow, you should head to this event being run by TakeBackNYC about trying to save Brooklyn “small businesses, artists and cultural institutions.”

It’s not secret that small businesses in Brooklyn have been taking a hit for years now. Every week stories seem to pop up about another local favorite shutting down due to rising rents and loss of a reliable client base. TakeBackNYC is not just a bunch of people demanding you throw garbage cans at your nearest Starbucks like Mookie did in Do The Right Thing; they want to put a stop to the abuse these long time small businesses, who have provided a service to everyone who has come to Brooklyn for the past few generations, a real chance to continue.

According to their website “1000–1200 New York City small businesses are forced to close their doors—most because they lost their lease.” That’s per month! And they are tired of it. On June 4, at 7pm inside St. Joseph High School in downtown Brooklyn, the group will host a public forum to discuss what’s happening to small businesses around Brooklyn, and what we can do to help them. Panelists include the “Godfather of Small Business” Sung Soo Kim; Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College; Sherri Donovan, an authority on “the legal history of commerical rent control rulings in NYS courts”; director Kelly Anderson (My Brooklyn); and Dexter Ciprian, advocate for the Brooklyn artist community and representative of ASAP (no, not the rap group), the Artist Studio Affordability Project.

The goal for TakeBackNYC is to get a bill to the city council that will protect small businesses from greedy landlords (a.k.a NYC’s most hated). So if you are like many of us and are tired of seeing Starbucks popping up where our favorite delis us to be, you should come listen to the obviously smart and in the know people, and see if you can help. We’re all neighbors, we should be looking out for one another. Besides do we really need another coffee shop?

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