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Side-by-Side, East Village Chain Stores Would Span 16 City Blocks (Plus: Map)

textchains2Illustration: Lauren Carol Smith
chainsfinal CLICK TO ENLARGE

There’s been much ado about chain stores lately: last month, anarchists targeted a new 7-Eleven; earlier this week, Community Board 3 continued its discussion on retail diversity; and now a petition calls for a halt to the perceived chain invasion in the East Village. But just how many chains are in the neighborhood, anyway? The Local pounded the pavement to find out.

The petition claims that “zip code 10003, which we all know as the East Village, now has the most national retail stores of any zip code in NYC (except for one that has a huge shopping mall).” Not exactly true: a recent study by the Center for an Urban Future found 169 chain retailers in the zip code, actually the third-most in the city. Since the 10003 zip includes parts of the Flatiron District and Gramercy (and only part of the East Village), the question remains: how much of the East Village do chain stores own?

Here’s what we found: if one were to place every national chain store, bank, restaurant, and movie theater in the East Village side-by-side, they would span 16 city blocks, and that’s with stores on both sides of the street. Read more…

At Local Businesses, a New Way to Pay

Sam Penix at Everyman EspressoIan Duncan Owner Sam Penix makes a coffee at Everyman Espresso. Customers now swipe their credit cards through an iPad to pay

When web designer Matt Norris wants a coffee at Everyman Espresso, he doesn’t reach to his pocket for cash or a credit card. With a quick few swipes on his iPhone and a look at the barista he has paid and his drink is on its way to being made. For the barista’s part, he just looks Mr. Norris in the face, confirms his identity and the transaction is complete.

Everyman, on East 13th Street, is an early adopter of Square, a mobile-based payment system developed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. The company’s name derives from the little square card reader that connects to a merchant’s (or anyone’s, for that matter) iPhone or iPad, turning it into a payment device, an approach a number of other companies are also taking. In May, Square launched its new product, the card case, which stores regular customers’ details and allows for flesh payments like that made by Mr. Norris for his coffee.

Following in the footsteps of a reporter from Fast Company, I tried out Square at Everyman, opting for the more conventional method of swiping my card. It works pretty much as you might expect: run the card through the white plastic reader, which connects to the iPad’s headphone jack, and sign using the touch screen and a finger. That last part was a little awkward – the result was a childlike scrawl that only loosely approximated my signature, but it was apparently sufficient for my bank.
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A Store’s Fall Blamed on Roku Not Rent

I-V ElectronicsMeghan Keneally I-V Electronics Corporation, 108 First Avenue.

I-V Electronics Corporation at 108 First Avenue will close its doors for good this evening. And unlike some recently shuttered businesses, it doesn’t blame its demise on rising rents, bike lanes, or a difficult landlord.

“It’s not our landlord — we have the best landlord in all of New York,” said the store’s owner, Richard Serowik. “It’s Netflix, its ordering online that killed us in the competition.”

The store, which rents DVDs and repairs electronics, has been at its First Avenue location between Sixth and Seventh Streets for the past 16 years. Mr. Serowik, however, has been in the video business for longer, having run a store of the same name in Chelsea prior to coming to the East Village.

But his foray into our neighborhood coincides with the rise of video-on-demand services such as Netflix, which started about a decade and a half ago and streams videos into viewers homes through a device known as a Roku box.

As part of the store’s closing sale, all DVDs are $2.99 until they close at 10 p.m., and, at 5 this afternoon, there was easily more than a hundred still on the shelves. But Mr. Serowik isn’t too worried: anything that he doesn’t sell tonight, he’ll just sell online. If you can’t beat the competition, join ‘em.