Video: Love, Loss and Fresh Fish on the Last Day at Joon Fish Market

Joon Westside Fish Market, at 774 Amsterdam Avenue near West 98th Street, closed earlier this month. Filmmaker Christopher Ming Ryan spent the last day in the market talking to customers and workers.

Ming Ryan explained why he made the video:

The closing of the Joon Fish Market on 98th and Amsterdam as reported by your blog motivated me to spend their last full day open to customers with camera in hand.

I’m hoping this short film compels our community to buy local.

At this very moment, we are losing the fabric of our NYC neighborhoods as more mom and pop stores, like Joon, vanish.

A recent New York Times editorial (11/19/17) on the plethora of storefronts that have been shuttered describes the predicament, “One by one, cherished local shops are disappearing, replaced by national chains or, worse, nothing at all.”

This Saturday, November 25th, is known as Small Business Saturday. It’s an annual reminder to shop small in your neighborhood.

Every day should be Small Business Saturday or else we will lose what makes our neighborhood a neighborhood.

Christopher Ming Ryan is a filmmaker and Co-principal of Wheelhouse Communications. A life long New Yorker, he is currently making a feature-length documentary on the collapse of Mom and Pop stores in Manhattan. Twitter: @chrismingryan

Our first story on the closing is here, and includes comments from the landlord.

HISTORY, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 19 comments | permalink
    1. Leslie Ross says:

      More important than my participation in the video is the alarming loss we are all living through of the wonderful local stores that define our NYC community. It goes back to the old saying, “Nothing colder than a landlord’s heart.” Thus where we had Joon’s lovely little store, we now have a space that sits empty while the greedy landlord looks for a richer tenant so he can fatten his bank account. Ditto for the corner of 100th and Broadway where the Turkish restaurant had been for decades. And many more. Let’s hope the landlord gets his just dessert.

    2. Allan Miller says:

      Hey Chris – This is beautifully done – very strong without being heavy.

      Congratulations

      Allan Miller (Mike’s son)

    3. Wendy says:

      The only way to prevent local mom and pop stores from closing is commercial real estate rent controls, something that is akin to what has kept lower middle class folks to be able to stay on the upper west side. This has been going on for years now on the UWS – local stores having to close after their rent goes up astronomically. Then the stores sit empty for years while landlords refuse to rent them out for a reasonable increase.

      I believe that due to some prior supreme court ruling, it’s very difficult to regulate or limit a landowners right to earn a profit from their property, or for example to compel them to rent empty storefronts. Therein lies the problem. The City Council will have to be very creative and determined to rectify this problem, and resist the greedy landowner lobby. Otherwise the UWS will be come only big box stores, open strip malls, with the disappearance of any type of retail character. It’s already halfway there.

      • your neighbor says:

        There are probably a bunch of rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments above the Joon shop.

        Landlord needs to make money somewhere if NYC regulations don’t allow landlord to make adequate profit from the apartments.

        Maybe the city should stop double digit percentage increases on property taxes?

        Maybe you should get together with a group of friends and buy some property and rent storefronts to low paying businesses.

        The only way to keep these smaller local stores open is to shop there instead of fresh direct, amazon, jet, walmart,etc.

      • Sherman says:

        Residential rent regulation laws have been a disaster for NYC and is the reason NYC has perennial housing affordability problems.

        These laws have hurt far more people than they’ve helped. Enacting commercial rent regulation laws would be another disaster.

        To all these commentators crying about “greedy landlords” the truth is Jeff Bezos has far more to do with all these empty storefronts than “greedy landlords”.

        Furthermore, Joon Fish Market closed largely due to to competition from the nearby Whole Foods and changing tastes rather than increased rent. Even the manager of Joon admitted as much in a recent WSR article.

        People should get their facts straight before posting uneducated and ignorant nonsense.

      • B.B. says:

        Because rent control laws have worked so well for residential you want to spread that pain to the only normally functioning real estate market in NYC.

    4. Bob Lamm says:

      Sad story, one of many similar stories. Great video. New York City needs commercial rent control for exactly this type of store with community roots.

    5. Robin says:

      So sad!!! Thank you for sharing this.

    6. steve smith says:

      Great Video of the dilemma we are currently in on the UWS. Where are our elected officials? I love the idea of a vacancy tax to thwart the expansion of open retail space on the UWS. Relinquish your space or LEAVE. I think tax benefits allow landlords to keep spaces off the market without regard for community needs! What say others?

      • Sherman says:

        You think wrong. There’s no secret tax incentives for landlords to have empty storefronts.

        I’m a CPA and I know something about tax law.

        As I noted above I wish people would stop posting ignorant nonsense.

    7. Upper Wester says:

      Is there a list of local merchants participating in small biz sat?

    8. B.B. says:

      This endless tirade against “big greedy landlords” preying upon poor and defenseless small businesses and or “mom and pop” retail must cease.

      There are simply too many factors coming at once for nearly all retail in NYC to simply point the finger at landlords.

      For the benefit of those who care to know retail/commercial rents in Manhattan in many areas are actually decreasing to levels not seen in years. https://therealdeal.com/2017/11/22/manhattan-retail-hits-17-year-low/

      The problem lies not with the rents, which would have to be rolled back to 1970’s or 1980’s levels to suit some; but more to the point the demographics of NYC have changed. This and technology has simply brought about a revolution in retail as more and more people are choosing online versus brick and mortar stores.

      Look around you; even big national chains/franchises and or that once holy grail of retail tenants; banks, are shrinking. All of it isn’t just due to rents, but simply because technology has brought about either competition and or changed consumer behavior.

      Walgreens and Duane Reade have closed stores. Gracious Home went bankrupt and now has emerged with two much smaller stores (UES and Soho). Starbucks is closing large stores and opening more “intimate” spaces.

      Many of these small and or mom and pop businesses (retail, restaurants,etc….) survived often on very tight gross margins. Many were able to survive because a good number of their fixed costs were low; rent, taxes, utilities, labor, and so forth. Well that is no longer the case.

      All of your railing on about how big greedy landlords are forcing businesses to close due to high rents seem to give NYC a pass. Do you know how often and high commercial real estate taxes have been raised over the past decade or so?

      “For commercial property the average bill is shown per parcel (typically a building) and per square foot, which takes into account changes in the average size of buildings. From 2001 to 2017 the average bill per commercial parcel grew from just above $49,000 to more than $111,000, or 5.2 percent annually; adjusting for the rate change, the average annual increase was 4.1 percent. Per square foot, the adjusted bill more than doubled from $3.69 to $7.45 from 2001 to 2017”
      https://cbcny.org/research/new-york-city-property-taxes

      One supposes many would favor placing commercial/retail rental property under some sort of system similar to rent control. A system that has totally distorted the NYC housing market and creates winners (those who get a controlled unit and never leave), versus new arrivals and or anyone else.

      Have also frequently pointed out much ground floor retail on the UWS and elsewhere in Manhattan are part of co-op buildings. So the “greedy landlords” are not some big shots hiding behind a LLC; but your friends, neighbors and or family living in all those grand pre-war and other co-op buildings. Ever since the IRC changed the rules about how much money a co-op could earn from retail and not harm their tax status it has been off to the races.

      • Jay says:

        Good points, BB.

        I wish more people here were more open to the facts you write.

      • Independent says:

        This endless tirade against “big greedy landlords” preying upon poor and defenseless small businesses and or “mom and pop” retail must cease.

        Must cease”? Everyone here has just as much as right as anyone else to challenge, criticize, even condemn what others write in comments. But to declare, in the manner that you have here, that certain comments “must cease”? As soon as one does that, one invites the challenge: Who are you to make such a declaration?

        There are simply too many factors coming at once for nearly all retail in NYC to simply point the finger at landlords.

        All of it isn’t just due to rents,

        To place the blame entirely upon landlords may indeed be a fallacious argument. But does that mean, necessarily, that landlords are completely blameless in the matter? Is there not at least room, within the realm of reasonable and well-informed views, to hold landlords at least partly to blame? Don’t the statements of yours that I quoted above, particularly the words I highlighted by means of bold-face-text, suggest that the answer to the latter question is ‘yes’?

        So the “greedy landlords” are not some big shots hiding behind a LLC; but your friends, neighbors and or family living in all those grand pre-war and other co-op buildings.

        That’s a most valid point. Moreover, how many of those who condemn the greed of landlords (as well as of corporations and others) would, if placed in the same position and subject to the same temptations, act any better?

      • Independent says:

        @B.B.:
        There are simply too many factors coming at once for nearly all retail in NYC to simply point the finger at landlords.

        All of it isn’t just due to rents,

        To place the blame entirely upon landlords may indeed be a fallacious argument. But does that mean, necessarily, that landlords are completely blameless in the matter? Is there not at least room, within the realm of reasonable and well-informed views, to hold landlords at least partly to blame? Note the words I highlighted in the statements of yours that I quoted above.

        So the “greedy landlords” are not some big shots hiding behind a LLC; but your friends, neighbors and or family living in all those grand pre-war and other co-op buildings.

        That’s a most valid point. Moreover, how many of those who condemn the greed of landlords (as well as of corporations and others), if placed in the same position and subject to the same temptations, would act any better?

    9. Cjberk says:

      Goodbye Westside Market: we are so depressed that they were forced out. A combination of Triumph Mgmt.and Mr.Joskowitzs’ greed have put many employees out of work and greatly troubled our seniors who depended on them for 24 hour food and kindness and ease of life. Mr joskowitz apparently has chosen to open 3 new stores on the east side rather than stand behind the 77th st store open since 1979. And he is saying the employees will be employed elsewhere which is NOT true. They’re out of work. So that’s that. Sad end. And btw, something tells us these new stores will not make it; people will stay away. We hope.

    10. Lord Of The Slice says:

      Next on the chopping block: Mani Market.

      you all know it’s going to happen. Once that TRADER JOES opens, and many on this boardare hailing the arrival of this GIANT CHAIN MEGA STORE, and yet the mom and pop Mani been here for nearly 30 yrs….going to go bye bye.
      They already lost 25% of business due to Whole Foods, they can’t sustain another loss like that

      everyone wave to Mani as Trader Joes gobbles up another portion of the market.

      ENJOY!

      • Jay says:

        Mani’s will probably be fine because they offer something TJs doesn’t; decent produce and short lines.

        The Dags on 91st will probably close up shop within a week, though.

    11. Smithe says:

      I hate to tell you but even with a zero rent increase, many of these places are operating on borrowed time due to your online shopping practices. That is the true culprit and you cannot deny it.