Conference highlights the struggles of local merchants

August 19, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Conference highlights the struggles of local merchants
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Merchants and elected officials held a conference outside Galaxy Comics, 6823 Fifth Ave., to talk about what can be done to save local businesses.

According to State Senator Andrew Gounardes, 74 percent of the city’s small businesses say the number one obstacle they face is paying rent.

Certain commercial evictions will be able to move forward beginning Aug. 20, while the executive order protecting other businesses from commercial evictions expires on Sept. 4. While the Tenant Safe Harbor Act protects residential tenants with a COVID hardship from being evicted, no similar ongoing protections exist for small businesses.

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“Galaxy Comics fell behind on its rent just like so many other businesses and had to rely on the community to come together to help bail them out,” said Gounardes. “It shouldn’t have to come to GoFundMe pages to have the neighborhood pitch in money to keep a business in business.”

Gounardes says urgent actions are needed on all levels in government and that Congress must pass the Heroes Act.

“[It will] provide hundreds of billions of dollars of support for small businesses across the country,” he said. “We need to pass legislation that was introduced just today in partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to give property owners an incentive to restructure leases so that small businesses like Galaxy have a fighting chance to survive in this economy.”

“We are counting on our government officials and leaders to help, otherwise far too many of us won’t be able to make it,” said Galaxy Comics owner Abdulilah Esa. “We need people on our side to save small businesses and keep the economy of this beautiful city of ours alive.”

“Since we are not getting any federal aid, we need hardworking New Yorkers to build a new economy without restrictions,” said Don Lee, owner of CoffeeRx. “To get out of this crisis, we need less regulations, less fines and less taxes on small businesses. We also need to suspend the commercial eviction moratorium while we find a relief solution that allows small businesses to stay open.”

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