Jose Alvaraddo saved his money for over a decade in order to purchase 3 Brothers Mini Market, a bodega at 169th street and Audubon Avenue.
After being open for only around 8 months Alvaraddo is finding significant trouble staying open due to rising rent and other conditions that are making it impossible to stay open. This has been a problem for many storeowners like Alvarrado recently despite the probability that comes with owning a bodega. The biggest problem is they are losing most of their customers to chain stores.
There are currently around 12,000 bodegas around New York city.
Bodegas are home to many things necessary to the average person. They sell hair products, beer, food products, cigarettes, fruit, lottery tickets and much more. Bodegas also do things such as take in neighbor’s packages, extend credit to frequent customers and even sometimes provide customers with a spiritual fix.
So far this year around 75 have closed this year mostly in Inwood, Harlem, and Washington Heights according to Ramon Murphy who is the president of the Bodega Association of the United States.
Steve Barrison who is a spokesman for the Small Business Congress in New York says the current retail climate, which has high rents and often no guarantee of long-term leases creates instability for small business owners, including bodegas.
Alvarrado negotiated a 5-year lease with his landlords manager and was told 6 months later he wouldn’t be able to renew his lease. He said his rent also increased $100 from one month to the next with barely any expectation.
Rent is the biggest expense for Bodega owners, and in Manhattan the competition for small spaces is fierce and that causes the commercial rent to go higher and higher. From 2004 to 2014 the commercial rent has rose 34 percent and in Upper Manhattan have rose around 20 percent.
The rising rent and the fact that chain stores keep popping up are proving tough to handle for Bodegas. In 2014, the city watched the largest increase in chain stores in 4 years bringing the figure up to 7,473 within the city.
The damage that places like Duane Reades and Rite Aid’s do Bodegas are the pharmacies and they can purchase in bulk. Despite things like this the fact that some of these Bodegas have been in neighborhoods for years and provide store credit do them a lot of justice. Many people within the neighborhoods wouldn’t be happy if they were to close, and that’s why the importance and demand for them remains high.