Thursday, January 31, 2013

What we'd lose if we lost the neighborhood delis

7-Elevens and neighborhood delis/bodegas have been a popular topic around here of late. (Specifically here ... and here... and here).

Sarah Goodyear had a thoughtful post on the topic yesterday at The Atlantic Cities titled "Battle Cry for the Bodega."

A few quick excerpts on the positive influence of the bodegas/delis... (she also points out their downsides, such as the less-than-sanitary conditions at some stores... but...)

[T]here’s no denying that the texture of the city would be flattened if the idiosyncratic bodega became an endangered species. Not so much because of what the stores sell as because of the larger role they play in the community.

As an example, she cites a friend, a single mom raising a 10-year-old son. They live across the street from a bodega ...

... where a group of regulars spends the whole day either out front (if the weather is good) or by the cash register. Sometimes they drink a bit much, it’s true. But they are a living example of the "eyes on the street" that Jane Jacobs loved to talk about. My friend’s son feels safe walking home from school because he knows those folks are watching out for him, always calling out to him by name as he passes by.

If that bodega became a 7-Eleven, it’s hard to imagine that the inspectors from corporate headquarters would want those guys in the picture. That would be their loss. And everyone else’s.

Read the whole piece here.

Also, we'll have more info later on Saturday's Bodega Walk with the No 7-Eleven Committee...

[File photo/Bobby Williams]


daho said...

Not to mention, when Hurricane Sandy left us all powerless with food spoiling, many bodegas opened, in the dark, and led their customers around with flashlights. I can't see some corporate head in the home office allowing 7-11 to do that.

I'm surprised anyone goes to that chain when their offering is so little (except for smelly hot dogs). A bodega carries 4x the items in the same amount of space. With a cat to boot!

Spike said...

Excellent point. I think most of us have similar stories and feelings. At "my" bodega, they've allowed us to have packages delivered, ordered us up a last second car service for the airport at ungodly hours, let us "pay tomorrow" when a wallet is forgotten, stocked a specific food item on request, etc.

blue glass said...

the difference between corporations as people and real people.

Anonymous said...

it would be great too if everyone did a Landlord Walk against local landlords and developers. Now that would be something too. Let's see there's
Ben Shaoul-Magnum Management, Croman Realty-Steven Croman, Tower Brokerage- Bob Perl, Icon Realty-Terrence Lowenberg, Great Jones Realty-Donald Capoccia-BFC Partners, Corcoran Group Real Estate-Barbara Corcoran, and others. 

BFC Partners did the building that housed the Mars Bar.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...I just walked last night down Bowery, thinking I needed a little package of aspirin for a headache, no bodega to be found. Didn't want to look inside 7-11--those hot dogs would only exacerbate any headache.

Anonymous said...

Love the "Landlord Walk" idea - maybe the people who posted the comments below can lead the tour:
Tower Brokerage
Do not ever expect these people to pick up their phones. They cheated us out of a huge chunk of our security deposit claiming that we didn't clean (not true) and that we left garbage (the only thing we left was a new pack of unopened garbage bags and a new trash can as a nice gesture for the new tenants). Very unprofessional, don't ever use them.
Icon Realty
Renting an apartment from these guys was the worst decision I've ever made.

Icon slaps a new coat of paint on old apartments and grossly overcharges for them. I lived in a $2600/month unit in the East Village that was less than 350 sqft; my neighbor paid less than $1000/month on his rent.

When I moved in, they were still renovating the building. What this APPARENTLY entailed:

- NO GAS for 3 MONTHS. For some reason, they felt it was necessary to spend 3 whole months to fix the gas in the building. From February to May 2011, I was not able to use my stove in any capacity. To add insult to injury, management sent us an old hot plate in April that was so effective I could touch it with my bare hands at maximum heat.

- REPLACING STAIRS DURING RUSH HOUR. How would you like to wake up in the morning, stumble out of your front door, and find out that your staircase has been ripped out and you need to climb out over the leftover frame? Yes, this actually happened.

- WATER HEATER "EXPLODED". Exact words from our super. Plus, hot water outages occurred at least twice a month.

- NO MAIL FOR A MONTH. Our mailboxes were taken out and we had to get mail from the post office for a whole month.

- FRONT DOOR REPLACED WITHOUT HANDLE. Management apparently decided that people did not need to get in or out of the building over the weekend. When they replaced our front door on Friday, they did not think it necessary to add a handle so anyone could actually get in or out. Forget a lock--I had to jam my fingers into the door frame just so I could get it open. What if there had been a fire? Then again, I doubt if this company cares much if their tenants burn to death.

If you're OK with living in this hell on Earth, you'd better prepare to never move out. Because if and when you do, Icon will make sure to milk you for every dollar of your security deposit. Accidentally left a mark on the inside of your closet wall? You're paying for it. Forget to re-caulk your bathroom tiles? They're "filthy"--better be prepared to pay for that too.

These guys are the worst of the worst. Stay far, far away.

Crowman Realty
Steve Croman. He's DOUBLING rent on a poor family w/ a kid with Cancer. Absolutely disgusting what this guy is about.

She explained that we could not possibly sign a lease for $4,100 but pleaded that if our rent were to raise would he be so nice to consider a 10 percent raise? His attitude was snarky. He said they are running a business and not a charity and he could possibly find something cheaper for us somewhere else.

She explained again that moving out in January could be detrimental to his condition, not to mention we work nearby and the ability to check on our son during our breaks is essential. He then said "so you want me to do you a favor?" She said no, do a favor for a 2 year old boy with cancer. It's just one more year.

Magnum Management
would not rent from these people. they charge you ridiculous fees that are illogical but since they have your deposit there is nothing you can do about it but pay up. we tried going to small claims court but there was a 3 month wait for a hearing. avoid these people at all costs.

glamma said...

*My* bodega has one of those casino style quarter games where you drop one in the shoot and if you're lucky it knocks a bunch over the edge!
They also stock what i ask them to, let me buy on credit if i'm short, stay open 24 hrs and play AMAZING middle eastern music.
Come on everyone let's hear some more *My* Bodega stories
; )

blue glass said...

glamma, don't tell anyone about that quarter machine, i think it's illegal.

as for security deposits - the attorney general is the one that's supposed to help with this problem.
i think it might be much like 311 where they just log the complaints but they might (don't hold your breath) do something.
landlords have been keeping security deposits for years, only now they deposits are larger and the landlords are greedier.
they are also supposed to keep it in an interest bearing account (is there such a thing now) and you are entitled to the interest, assuming there is some. i think interest now runs about 2 cents a year.

Anonymous said...

Yes, your local bodega often accepts your packages for you, lets you pay for items later or tomorrow if you're short, and they stayed open during the hurricane and the ensuing blackout with candles and flashlights- they were a godsend!
Do you think 7-11 will do any of those things? Even if some 7-11's have nice staff members, I highly doubt they are allowed to do anything outside of their rigid corporate model.
During Sandy, they closed early and didn't reopen for 4-5 days- what would we all have done without our local bodegas?
Let's not forget all the great reasons we need to support our local bodega owners. They really are representatives of a neighborhood- I have nice memories of the local bodega workers from all the places I have lived.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion... don't pay your last months rent...
If they have the time and energy to sue you for a couple of nail holes, let the Judge decide what is a fair payment. These people are crooks and have no right to take your security deposits when you leave an apartment in good condition.