Bodegas are struggling to survive in one of New York's, and America's, wealthiest zip codes. Skyrocketing rents in the East Village and more competition from chain retail stores are making it difficult for the independently-owned, small convenient stores to keep their doors open for business. From The Local East Village:
"Bodegas are a dying breed," said Lisa Kaplan, chief of staff for City Councilwoman, Rosie Mendez. "The fact that the chains and pharmacies are carrying more products that bodegas used to sell, is adding greatly to the pressure."
According to the 2008-2009 New York City Hispanic Small Business Survey, 53 percent of bodegas are at risk of closing. Of the 937 Latino-owned bodega owners surveyed, 74 percent blamed high rents and 18 percent said they were unable to compete with larger franchise stores.
And it's not only in the East Village. According to Ramon Murphy, President of the Bodega Association of America, in 2008, 137 bodegas closed on Broadway from 197th up to 230th. Bodegas are also having troubles on Bedford and the Bowery.
Another concern for the bodega owners is New York state's proposed soda tax which, according to Murphy, could push many bodegas into bankruptcy.
Some New Yorkers fear that the closing bodegas threaten their neighborhood's sense of community. Kurt Cavanaugh, of the East Village Community Coalition, told The Local, "We have an interesting, unique community here and we don't want to lose that to Starbucks and McDonald's and the same old things you'd see from here to Topeka, Kansas."
And if the bodegas disappear, so too will nice little moments like this: