A valentine for Village businesses

By Deborah Glick

As someone who has spent nearly my entire adult life in Greenwich Village, I was crestfallen when St. Vincent’s shut its doors. Not only was the hospital the center for our community’s physical health, it also has been the lifeblood for many small local businesses. Now the health needs of our community have been severely diminished, and the local stores that give our neighborhood its character are withering in silence.

My connection to small businesses goes back many years. During my formative years, my family ran a print shop in the Far West Village, when operations like Superior Ink actually manufactured ink on the premises and weren’t condominiums. I saw firsthand how much work it takes to make a small business successful and how few resources exist to assist mom-and-pop operations. Unfortunately, this fact remains as true today as it did then. The city invites small businesses to open their doors but then does little to help them be successful. It’s hard enough to make it in New York City as it is; so imagine the effect when a 3,500-person operation, like St. Vincent’s, suddenly shuts its doors. The wake of such a closure has been harsh and swift.

The closing of St. Vincent’s has been a devastating blow to the Village and just as devastating for the businesses that depended on St. Vincent’s for survival. Many businesses have already closed, while others are struggling to survive. To help confront this problem, my office invited the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, Community Board 2, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Scott Stringer, state Senator Tom Duane and Council Speaker Christine Quinn to participate in a Valentine’s-themed shopping extravaganza on this Sat., Feb. 12, entitled, “Love the Village,” with the goal of supporting businesses that have been adversely impacted. The event will kick off at 10 a.m. on the northwest corner of Seventh Ave. and Greenwich Ave., across the street from Roasting Plant Coffee. On the weekend before Valentine’s Day, we want to show local businesses how big our hearts in the Village really are.

“Love the Village” will be a daylong shopping extravaganza that will encourage the public to engage with businesses in the immediate vicinity of St. Vincent’s. Participants will be given a map of businesses on Greenwich Ave., Sixth Ave. and Seventh Ave. and, after shopping at these businesses, they will have an opportunity to exchange their receipts (that value at least $10) for raffle tickets on the first floor of the Lesbian and Gay Center, at 208 W. 13th St. between Seventh Ave. and Greenwich Ave. between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Multiple raffles will be held throughout the day with the chance to win prizes donated by local businesses. To show Valentine’s Day appreciation, giveaways will include locally designed “Love the Village” T-shirts for the first 100 people to participate.

Although a one-day event may not save a business that is teetering on the edge, it may help introduce people to businesses that they might pass every day without ever entering. If we do want our neighborhood to be more Jane Jacobs than Marc Jacobs, a good first step is by stepping foot inside an independently owned local business. I look forward to seeing all of you on Feb. 12. Now, more than ever, we need to come together as a community and help those businesses that are in need.

Glick is assemblymember for the 66th District.