Another longtime Lower East Side business is having to give up its retail space due to rising rent. The party supply store, Genesis Bridal Shop, will be closing at 97 Clinton St. at the end of this month.
We paid a visit to the store yesterday, along with Enrique Cruz of the Association of Latino Business Owners and Residents (ALBOR) and Yanni Deconescu of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES). The two neighborhood organizations have partnered in an effort to revive the struggling Clinton Street commercial corridor.
Lourdes Salazar has owned the store for 22 years and worked in the shop under another family’s ownership for 10 years before that. Speaking with Cruz in Spanish, Salazar explained that she retired last year and had turned over the business to her daughter. Recently, the property owner decided to raise the monthly rent of the small shop from $4,000 to $10,000/month. Business has been declining in recent years, meaning that paying more than double the rent at 97 Clinton St. was out of the question. They’re now looking for a smaller space somewhere in the neighborhood.
Salazar is not bitter about the situation. The current lease actually expired last spring and the landlord has given the family time to decide what to do. Salazar said she’s fairly sure something could have been worked out if she was still running the shop, but since her daughter is now behind the counter, things are more uncertain. She is sympathetic to the property owner’s situation; Salazar pointed out that high property taxes is one factor behind the rent hike.
Salazar noted that party supply stores like her shop once dotted Clinton Street. In the mid 1980s there were at least 11 of them in the area. Some customers have moved away. Others shop at big discount stores or order party supplies online.
ALBOR and GOLES received a $30,000 grant from the city’s Department of Small Business Services last year for new business attraction on Clinton Street. They briefed Community Board 3’s economic development committee last night about their progress. Cruz said there are currently at least 19 vacancies on Clinton Street from East Houston Street to Delancey Street.
The organizations are working with property owners on the block to find potential new tenants who not only offer services and products the local community want and need but also are capable of succeeding long-term in the neighborhood. Several open house are planned to show off some of the available spaces. Several months ago, local residents offered feedback about the kinds of businesses they’d like to see in the area.