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Tea & Sympathy creates GoFundMe campaign so it's not 'the next one' to close

Afraid her businesses will be priced out of West Village, the owner is seeking assistance.

Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue, which is

Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue, which is facing financial straits, has a GoFundMe campaign to help with real estate tax, rent and loan repayments. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Beloved West Village tea shop Tea & Sympathy, its British grocery store, and fish and chips shop, A Salt and Battery, are in trouble.

Nicky Perry, the shops' English-born owner, created a GoFundMe page on Wednesday morning in a desperate plea to keep her businesses open. With a goal set at $100,000, Perry would use the money to lower loan repayments, as well as pay vendors, real estate taxes and rents for all three of her businesses at 108, 110 and 112 Greenwich Ave. 

As of early evening Wednesday, the fundraiser  had collected nearly $2,300.

Perry, who opened Tea & Sympathy in 1990 and A Salt and Battery in 1999, said she's afraid her shops will be the next in her neighborhood to be shuttered.

"There's an empty store on every single damn block," she told amNewYork. "It's mad. Since I opened the shop, I'm paying 10 times the rent and 1,000 times the real estate taxes. It's killing all of us. Tortilla Flats is gone. If I don't do something, I'm going to be the next one. Will we become a high-end clothing store no one is going to buy anything from?"

The monthly fees the three businesses need for loans, vendors, real estate taxes and rent total $28,000 – and don't include other important costs of running the businesses, such as payroll, she said.

The landlord for the tea shop at 108 Greenwich Ave., Sky Management, declined a request for comment and the landlord for the fish and chips and retail shop at 110-112 Greenwich Ave., Gatsby Realty, did not return a call for comment.

Tea & Sympathy, with a menu featuring favorites such as sticky toffee pudding and treacle pudding, and traditional English fare (baked beans on toast, Welsh rarebit with fresh tomato) hasn't done any less business compared  with 10 years ago, but operating costs are so high, Perry said, that she can't catch up. And if things keep going the way they are, Tea & Sympathy would be forced to raise its prices and eventually close.

"People are not going to pay $45 for a pot of tea and scones," she said. "Selling $10 fish and chips and $7 scones — there's no way."

Not only that, but other businesses seem to be chipping away at her earnings. Every time someone uses a credit card, the card companies take 4 percent; Seamless and Postmates take about 12.5 percent from the profit of a single sale, she said.

NerdWallet says it's common for credit card companies to charge about 1 to 3 percent of the transaction. A 2014 Quartz dive into GrubHub/Seamless business filings found that the average commission charged to restaurants was 13.5 percent.

"Here, all the restaurants have to pay payroll, their bills, real estate taxes and rent, but everybody else is making the money," Perry said. "I'm not a wealthy person and I don't care about being wealthy and I'm not interested in jewelry and Chanel suits. I just want to pay my bills and give my fantastic workers a little bit extra for Christmas this year."

She couldn't give her staff a bonus last year for the first time, she said.

She turned to GoFundMe because she is afraid her landlords won't renew her lease at the end of the year because of all she owes. 

"This morning, I was thinking, 'How am I going to do this? I'm never, ever going to make enough money,' " she said. "It made me cry."

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