City launches Open Storefronts initiative ahead of holiday season

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Businesses are slowly coming back in NOHO in Manhattan as stores are able to reopen to the public under Phase 4 of the Covid-19 rules. A shopper in Urban Outfitters on Broadway goes through clothing rack. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

New York City small business owners will be able to sell their wares outdoors as part of the city’s new Open Storefronts Program, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday. 

The initiative is modeled after the city’s Open Restaurant’s program and will allow shop owners to set up space to sell merchandise on sidewalks directly in front of their business. Businesses already enrolled in the city’s Open Restaurant’s program can use the curb lane in front of their stores and neighboring stores can file a joint Open Street application in order to claim more potential outdoor retail space, officials said. 

Store owners will be allowed to set up outdoor retail space five feet out directly from their buildings as well as five feet high and at all times allow an eight-foot clear path for pedestrians, officials said. Officials do not expect the initiative to impact roadways since the only businesses that are already offering outdoor dining or are enrolled in Open Streets would will have street space closed to traffic. 

The new effort is expected to help the city’s roughly 40,000 local businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic regain lost profits and staff by boosting sales. Store owners interested in taking advantage of the program can fill out an application at nyc.gov/openstorefronts. Small business owners will be able to sell their merchandise outdoors from Oct. 30 until Dec. 31. 

Mayor de Blasio said that the city chose to roll out the new initiative now to allow businesses to capitalize off the Christmas season.  “Everyone knows that this is such a crucial time of year for small businesses,” said de Blasio.” And we want them to be able to maximize it.” 

Small Business Services Commissioner Janell Doris said that the initiative will help store owners engage with customers and lock in sales while also allowing them to free up space inside of stores to prevent crowding. Small business owners with questions on the program or help in implementing it can reach the department by calling 888-SBS-4NYC or by emailing [email protected]

Stores that are closed in Flatiron area will benefit from mayorÕs idea. (Photo by Todd Maisel)