Is the New York City Small Business Scene Really Vanishing?

Are NYC Small Businesses Really Vanishing?

The streets of New York City today look quite different than they did decades ago — or even, in some cases, just a few years ago.

This is due, at least in part, to what Jeremiah Moss calls “the plight of Mom and Pop.” Moss is the author of Vanishing New York and one of the main voices behind the crowdsourced #SaveNYC movement.

In the Vanishing New York book and blog, Moss details some of the unique landmarks, independent shops, family restaurants and other one-of-a-kind small businesses that once graced the streets of New York City but have since closed. Just within the early days of February, the blog has detailed the reported closures of an independent office supply store, gay bar and neighborhood diner — among others.

However, just because there are some small businesses that have closed in recent years doesn’t mean all are struggling. In fact, Biz2Credit rated New York City as the top city for small businesses in America. The rating was based on the financial health of businesses applying for funding in each city during the previous year. According to Biz2Credit, small businesses in New York City reported average revenues of nearly $980,000, suggesting many of the businesses in the city at this time are in good financial shape.

The Impact of Disappearing NYC Small Businesses

But Vanishing New York’s record of business closures around the city can’t be denied. Even if it’s not having a major impact on the city’s economy, some argue it’s leading to a loss of interest and culture, and in some cases even erasing the city’s history.

The blog’s record of these closures goes all the way back to 2001. Between 2001 and 2013, the blog compiled a list of businesses that had been around for a combined 6,926 years before closing up shop. And of course, there are likely other closures not included.

While Vanishing New York is sort of a documentation of what was, #SaveNYC is a movement aiming to bring the once vibrant and unique community of small businesses back to the city — or at least preserve what’s left.

The website reads, “Today, more than ever, the soul of New York City is getting murdered by rising rents, suburbanization, rampant development, and a flood of chain businesses. Hyper-gentrification is destroying the cultural fabric of the city.”

In order to accomplish this goal, the movement offers a few different potential solutions and ways people can get involved. The first involves supporting the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would improve the power of small businesses to negotiate fair rents with landlords. The website also suggests starting a cultural landmarks program, putting restrictions on the spread of chain businesses, giving tax breaks to small businesses rather than large corporations and fining landlords who leave commercial spaces vacant. For now, people looking to get involved can add a video or photo or post on social media in support of the campaign.

Photo via Shutterstock


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

2 Reactions
  1. I guess it is now a place for bigger businesses. So it is harder to set up small businesses in the area because there are so many established businesses.