New York City reveals Open Storefronts Program to aid businesses


CaptJayRuffins | Wikimedia Commons

Jahlil Rush

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Open Storefronts Program with a mission to aid New York City businesses that have fallen victim to economic downfall since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many small businesses have closed due to a loss in revenue. The city witnessed nearly 6000 stores shut down and bankruptcy had increased by 40%.

De Blasio signed an executive order on Oct. 28 during a morning press conference where he noted that New Yorkers can help by shopping at local businesses. The Open Storefronts Program allows ground floor storefront businesses to use outdoor sidewalk space to showcase their products, join businesses to apply for an Open Street and restaurants in Open Streets to curb lanes directly.

Critics of the program find it problematic. Businesses in areas like the East Village, TriBeCa and SoHo do not have the necessary sidewalk space for their businesses. “Most shops won’t be able to do this, including us,” Dina Leor, owner of La Sirena, an art shop in the East Village, said. “Unless you’re on an avenue, stores will be knocked out of this automatically because of the clearance requirements.”

Under the guidelines of the Open Storefront Programs, stores must also adhere to certain rules. All products must be placed against a wall surface of the business. Also outdoor objects and other goods cannot block subway grates, fire hydrants and bus stop waiting areas.

Tents and umbrellas are not recommended to be used during rough weather, like strong wind conditions.

40,000 New York businesses can meet the requirement for the Open Storefront Program, according to a report from CBS New York. Businesses can apply to the program online.