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Making It | Linda Scifo-Young of Foot Gear Plus and Village Kids

P1030888Shira Levine

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here are two of them: Village Kids and Foot Gear Plus.

While in high school, Tony Scifo worked part-time for a shoe guy. In 1980, at the tender age of 19, he bought Foot Gear, the shoe shop across the street at 131 First Avenue. Two and a half years ago, he and his big sister Linda Scifo-Young opened Village Kids, selling children’s kicks just a block away at 117 First Avenue. Ms. Scifo-Young used to work in corporate real estate, so she wasn’t scared of going into business during a financial crisis. “As a real estate broker, I knew that the only time I could get a decent lease for the second store was when the market was bad,” she said. The Local spoke to her at Village Kids about whether her gamble paid off.


What influences your business the most?


The funny thing is that in actuality we’re in the weather business. If the weather cooperates, we’re good. If it’s cold when it’s supposed to be cold, then we have a good season. If it’s hot when it’s supposed to be hot, then we have a good season. If any of those things don’t work, you have no season. This year was hard with how the weather cooperated. Read more…

N.Y.U. Supporters Tout Economic Benefits of Expansion

P1000217Elizabeth Ferrara Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council said the plan would create much-needed construction jobs.

In the first rally of its kind, advocates of N.Y.U.’s controversial expansion gathered yesterday at City Hall calling on Borough President Scott M. Stringer to approve the plan.

About 35 people, business owners, union leaders, and construction workers among them, attended the roughly 15-minute gathering in support of the university’s proposal that would add four new buildings south of Washington Square Park.

“We’re here today asking Borough President Stringer to recognize that N.Y.U.’s growth strategy is an essential part of securing the financial future of small businesses in Greenwich Village,” said Tony Juliano, president of the local Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, which represents around 200 businesses in surrounding neighborhoods.

It was clear that the approval for the plan dubbed N.Y.U. 2031 is getting down to crunch time. The event amounted to a formal endorsement from the Building and Construction Trades Council, which is led by the influential Gary LaBarbera.
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Around the Corner From St. Mark’s Bookshop, Prices Inch Up at Zaiya

Cafe ZaiyaDaniel Maurer

While we have our lens trained on Cooper Square today: The Local was shocked to see that the price of a spicy chicken sandwich went up by 25 cents at Cafe Zaiya — a sign that even one of the neighborhood’s cheapest eateries isn’t recession-proof.

Yesterday, the Japanese cafe raised the price of a pre-packaged onigiri with salmon (a triangle-shaped rice cake) by 25 cents to a whopping $1.75. And the spicy chicken sandwich — a favorite around the Local office — is now $4.25, up from $3.95.

“Gas is up. We have to pay tolls a lot,” said Fabian Lima, an employee at the cafe. “We haven’t raised the price since 2003.”
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The Cost of Living

white linesMichelle Rick

If you don’t live here in the East Village, you all naturally assume that we collectively get up around 10:30 a.m., rearrange our dreadlocks, drink coffee while sitting on a fire escape, admire the worn painted ads on the sides of our buildings, and then begin our long day of dance auditions before our bartending gigs start at 5 p.m.

You imagine that our clothes are beautifully tie-dyed and that our jewelry looks like we sprinkled a Tibetan souvenir shop onto ourselves. You picture us writing poetry on a bed of leaves in Tompkins Square Park, only raising our heads to drink wheatgrass smoothies. You are not wrong about any of this, and we are ALL like this.

However, it has recently come to my attention that real estate in the East Village is incredibly expensive.

Expensive to the point where if a group of roommates were to live in a two-bedroom apartment overlooking Pommes Frites and live the lifestyle described above, said group would need to be about 10 people to afford this kind of East Village abode, and that is not including the upkeep of dreads.
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Growth for East Village Economy?

Construction 2 on LafayetteReginald Pointdujour

Reports from Washington D.C. today reveal that the Federal Reserve has upgraded its outlook on the national economy. The Fed is now forecasting greater economic growth this year, although unemployment is expected to remain high.

Is it too early to detect signs of a return to economic health in the East Village? Is the pinch at least a little less painful than it was a year ago? Let us know. Put your response in the comments below. Provide details, please.

Is The Recession Over?

The students of NYU Journalism’s Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation graduate concentration took to the streets of the East Village to ask a simple question: Do you think the recession is over?

Are you doing better this year than last? What do you think when you hear people say that the recession is over?