Mom-and-pops close as neighborhoods—and priorities—change

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It's the same story, different day—or so it seems: Mom-and-pops closing as neighborhoods transform. According to an interview with writer D. W. Gibson published in The Atlantic, gentrification—the process and the word itself—has gotten so commonplace that we need to find another way to talk about it, to "stop leaning on that one word and try to talk about all the aspects that affect our lives when a lot of money comes to town and people are displaced, and the character of the neighborhood changes. I think it’s better to be more precise with which of those discussions we’re having."

But a New York Times story examines how high rents may not be the only reason local stores are closing. Like everything else it seems in this ever-shifting city, the truth is much more complicated.

Take Felice Kirby, who used to co-own Teddy's Bar & Grill in Williamsburg. She sold the business early this year in part because "Williamsburg has strayed uncomfortably far from the working-class neighborhood she came to as a community organizer in 1979." (Her kids haven't been interested in taking over the pub, either, and she and her partners wouldn't sell to a real estate developer.)

For Richard and John Zawisny, the prospect of being able to sell their building for a tidy sum that would allow them to spend time with their families proved too great. John Zawisny told the Times, "you start to contemplate, ‘Why am I doing this, when I could be with my family,’ and no one knows how much time we have."

Nonetheless, whether borne out of personal reasons or hardship, there's no denying that every store closing alters a neighborhood's vibe. Just check out the photographs in Storefront: The Disappearing Face of New York, a book that documents what we've lost over the years. Prepare to get hit by a big dose of nostalgia.


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