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ANHD and Six Neighborhood Partners Launch Citywide Merchant Organizing Project

November 21, 2022

The Citywide Merchant Organizing Project (CMOP) works toward increased merchant organizing coordination and collaboration among neighborhoods and a stronger citywide base of merchants ready to fight against displacement threats.

Featured local businesses for ANHD's Citywide Merchant Organizing Project Small Business Saturday campaign

This #SmallBizSat, ANHD is highlighting the importance of merchant organizing in strengthening the stability of New York City’s commercial corridors and preventing the displacement of culturally relevant small businesses and local jobs. Through the Citywide Merchant Organizing Project (CMOP), ANHD and our partners are working toward increased merchant organizing coordination and collaboration among neighborhoods and a stronger citywide base of merchants ready to fight against displacement threats.

With funding from the New York City Department of Small Business Services, ANHD and six partners are working across neighborhoods to coordinate merchant organizing efforts along commercial corridors in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods that are also home to communities of color and immigrants.  

  • Asian American Federation in Elmhurst, Queens
  • Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative in East Tremont, the Bronx
  • Chhaya CDC in Jackson Heights, Queens
  • Cooper Square Committee in the Lower East Side/East Village, Manhattan 
  • REMA4US in Far Rockaway, Queens
  • Yemeni American Merchants Association in Little Yemen, the Bronx

These organizations provide critical support services to keep small businesses alive–such as facilitating access to capital and navigating bureaucratic systems–but they also engage merchants in leadership development opportunities, create avenues for collective action, and build merchant power against the threat of small business displacement. They’ve been supporting small businesses such as:

  • Alfakhamah, Yemeni boutique, 855 Morris Park Avenue, the Bronx
  • Sabor a Mexico, Mexican restaurant, 160 1st Avenue, East Village
  • Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, Nepali restaurant, 74-15 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights
  • Purrfect Pets, pet store, 1914 Mott Avenue, Far Rockaway
  • Boba Fries, restaurant, 81-21 Broadway, Elmhurst
  • Yusuf Fabrics, fabric store, 37-24 74th Street, Jackson Heights
  • Jontue Discount Boutique, clothing store, 1825 Mott Avenue, Far Rockaway
  • Y Tech Corp, tech repair shop, 1801 White Plains Road, the Bronx
  • Ricky's Cafe, restaurant, 75-02 37th Ave, Jackson Heights

To support merchant organizing in these neighborhoods, ANHD is providing tools, resources, and technical assistance to these six partner organizations. One of the primary tools organizers are using to engage merchants is a merchant survey co-designed with organizers and merchant leaders to gather quantitative and qualitative data about how New York City’s small businesses have been impacted by rising commercial rents related to speculation and gentrification. Over the next seven months, we will be administering the survey with merchants in these six neighborhoods and undertaking other research efforts in order to assess challenges related to rent burden, lease negotiation, and landlord harassment among small businesses. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have faced increasing displacement threats as they lost revenue, accumulated back rent, and faced rising rents. Read ANHD’s State of Storefronts report to find out more about trends in storefront vacancies and commercial rents that indicate New York City’s ethnic enclaves and neighborhoods where people of color live might be at risk of small business displacement. For example, Council Districts where storefront rents increased from 2019 to 2020 are home to 71.2% people of color, versus 42.0% people of color in Districts where rents decreased. 

Through CMOP, the additional data collection alongside coordinated merchant base building and leadership development will provide the foundation for confronting these issues through education and advocacy. 

Follow @ANHDNYC and our hashtags #SmallBizSatNYC and #BuildMerchantPower to learn more about the merchants who run these businesses and the organizing work our partners are doing with them. 

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