Thursday: A Timely Talk on Small Business Survival


RCI before it closed.

It’s an anxious time for small businesses on the Upper West Side, and locals have been looking for ways to keep their favorite shops open.

On Thursday, Jen Rubin, who wrote a book called “We are Staying” about her family’s business, RCI, will speak at a forum about small businesses. RCI, at 98th street and Broadway, survived for 80 years before closing in 2014. Rubin will be joined by small business owners from the area and a member of Gale Brewer’s Task Force on Small Business.

The free event will take place at Hostelling International, 891 Amsterdam Avenue at 103rd Street starting at 6:30 p.m. 

We reviewed Rubin’s book here.

HISTORY, NEWS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Ben says:

      That storefront is still vacant. How do the economics of commercial real estate work when leaving a storefront empty for over 5 years is more valuable than accepting a lower rent from a long term tenant?

    2. dannyboy says:

      Shop Local!

      Just yesterday I was missing RCI for an appliance I need. I did get close to what I wanted at the housewares store on Broadway/99St.

    3. Chuck D says:

      I still use these guys for appliances and repairs. Awesome crew. Sadly, their storefront is still unoccupied. How can landlords be such bad business people?

    4. Sarah says:

      Worth noting that the RCI storefront is STILL empty, five-ish years later. Great work by the landlord.

    5. Sean says:

      The retail model that a certain age group grew up with is a thing of the past. No matter how you rail against it, it’s over. We have had traditionally more retail space for every single citizen than any other place on earth because we are a consumer driven society. More and more retail is moving online. I don’t shop local because there is nothing in these small stores that I need or want. And the idea that someone is trying to save a hardware store that has seen its’ day is ludicrous. We should be looking at alternative uses for these empty spaces.

      • Sarah says:

        Nothing’s stopping the landlord from exploring “alternative uses.” It apparently just doesn’t care whether it leaves a gap in the community or not.

        • Sean says:

          It is not written in stone that a first floor space must be dedicated to retail. It’s not just high rent, there is not the demand there once was because of online retail. Also, the independent landlord is on the way out. Many of these properties are part of portfolios and a anticipated rental income adds to the value of the property. This isn’t 1940s real estate.

          • Chuck D says:

            Thank you for explaining that! I assume that you mean that buried within this portfolio of assets, someone has listed this storefront as having a value of X, despite the fact that it hasn’t been rented out at X for years and years. So they just leave it empty, because according to some loan they took out, it’s worth X.

            Insane!

          • B.B. says:

            Who told you that, because it isn’t true.

            If zoning calls for ground floor, basement or whatever commercial/retail then that is exactly the purpose specified by city.

            Such spaces cannot be converted to residential or any other use without going to the city and seeking a new C of O (certificate of occupancy) and or zoning variance.

      • dannyboy says:

        “I don’t shop local because there is nothing in these small stores that I need or want.”

        Sean, you must be aware that West Side Rag is a Neighborhood Blog (Even the name gives a strong hint). Ever consider posting your comment on Internet Age or the like?

    6. Upper West Sider says:

      I think we need to address the greed of the owner of the building. And, we have to address how useless the local business improvement districts are, and how the NYC Small Business Services should be gutted from the top to the bottom. It’s amazing how Greg Bishop has not fired yet. Meanwhile, Delbasio and his staff are zzzzzzz.