Cold Days for the East Village Spirit

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My neighborhood gets sadder and sadder. As the greed machine grows and grows, so goes community and individual enterprise.

In the past two months I have seen four wonderful businesses pushed out by evil, selfish, greedy landlords. Yes, I spare no adjective. These are not humans...they must be pure corporate selfishness. I can't accept that a decent landlord would make it impossible for well run, well served businesses to be forced to give up because they insist on tripling their rents.

Cafe Pick Me Up dished up wonderful and inexpensive food for twenty years. It was a meeting point for people from all over...coffee, wine, conversations and great pasta. The Italian owner couldn't have been sweeter. Now an empty ugly closed building sits on the corner.

A sustainable green store closed last week. They sold terrific products made from recycled goods, from shoes to candles to art. They made good coffee and were a wonderful place to pick up a little last minute gift.

Dusty Buttons also closed down. The landlord threatened to raise their rent by 125%. For six years, Amanda sold adorable vintage and vintage like clothes along with antiques. She may move to Philadelphia.

My personal favorite, newcomer Glasgow Vintage, after only one year, has packed up the family to return to Scotland. They had always dreamed of having a shop in New York's East Village, after successfully owning a top vintage store in Glasgow. What they didn't bargain for was an avaricious landlord who had scaffolding and a trash bin in front of his shop for most of the year. The company was very busy building upward on the old tenement. That meant that shoppers couldn't easily see the shop to come in and browse. Naturally, the landlord wouldn't give these decent folk a break.

Here is an email I received from the shopkeep, now headed back to Scotland:

Hi Nancy

We were walking by the shop tonight and got your card, thanks so much for all your kind words! We have tried our best to fit in here but it has never felt quite right for us and what with all the trouble at the shop we decided to stop trying. It has been a real experience being here and meeting real people like you has made it so worthwhile and given us a glimpse of what this city maybe once was.

Ok, so what's next? More 7/11's, chain stores or bars which mainly serve visiting children who think that drinking below 14th street is their right.

We are in a country that calls out for a sense of community in every community. Is it still possible in this unfettered capitalistic dream that real estate New York has become? Let's hope so.