CityLab – July 24, 2017
Written by Karen Loew
Over its two decades in business, Jane’s Exchange, a secondhand children’s and maternity clothing shop in Manhattan’s East Village, has clothed generations of diverse New Yorkers and served as a de facto resource center, water cooler, and play spot. When she’s not running Jane’s Exchange, the co-owner Gayle Raskin, who also lives nearby, is usually active elsewhere in the community.
Especially on this island of the empty storefront, her shop is a textbook example of why shopping local matters: The store fills a need, employs local residents, re-invests locally, supplies warmth and personality to a city block, and supports neighborhood connections and institutions, which support it back. …
This is the moment for mom-and-pop shops to assert their value proposition, says Olivia LaVecchia, a research associate at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Washington, D.C. “There’s really a failure to recognize what a powerhouse small businesses are,” says LaVecchia, citing their interdependency with other desirable local outcomes, such as maintenance of affordable housing and jobs.
A recent report from ILSR advocates six policy approaches that any locality can apply. These ideas lend themselves to being customized. After a raft of tavern closures in England, a new process was born to dub locals Assets of Community Value that could follow a path to business preservation. Now the Ivy House is thriving as the first cooperatively owned pub in London. In the Latin Quarter of Paris, when too many bookstores closed, and too many tourists thronged, the city’s Vital Quartier program was born to combat “blandification” and promote the tenancy of culturally significant organizations. From Barcelona to Buenos Aires, cities are demonstrating that local retail culture matters.