Some small Greenwich Village businesses struggle with rising rents

In 2014 four beloved establishments closed their doors.

As Greenwich Village continues to go up in price, the inevitable shuttering of long-time small businesses is occurring.

In 2014 alone four beloved establishments, Gray’s Papaya, Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, Jinya Ramen Bar, and Manatus Restaurant, closed their doors due to rising rents or leases that landlords refused to renew.

The trend worries current small business owners who say the neighborhood would suffer without independently-owned shops.

“It’s getting more challenging for us,” said Dana Rywelski, owner of Doodle Doo’s on Christopher Street.

Dawa Sherpa, who has owned Land of Buddha on Macdougal Street for 14 years, said nearly all the other businesses on his block are new with the exception of a couple, like The Comedy Cellar.

“I’m lucky because I have a good relationship with my landlord,” he said.

Joel Zighelboim, owner of Jones Street Wine, also said he’s seen a lot of stores on his block close in the four years he’s been in business there.

The high-end stretch of Bleecker Street is one reason for the spike in rent prices as retailers like Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs can afford to pay more, he said.

“In the future if more big brand names enter and more of the very rich decide to move here, the downside would be that the rent would get so high shops like mine wouldn’t be here anymore,” he said.

Citi Habitats Real Estate Agent Issayas Tesfai said he doesn’t believe that commercialization and rising costs will deter potential residents and business owners from settling in Greenwich Village.

“I think people will always want to live in this area whether it becomes commercialized or not,” he said.

Terri Howell, business and community services manager at the Village Alliance business improvement district, said the vacancy rate is lower than it has been in decades, particularly on West Eighth Street.

“It is an area that is in transition but we’ve noticed foot traffic has also increased 16%,” she said.