Wednesday November 25, 2020- Severe local regulations established as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has crippled many of our small businesses forcing many to close and leaving others struggling to survive. Small business owners make up a large percentage of our citizens and many are being crushed by the burden of having to pay rent and other costs of doing business but with limited to no income. Many people talk about the need to help out local small businesses but talking is not enough. We need people to actually do what they can to help local businesses stay alive, survive, and thrive. Queens community activist Sorelle Idels and her brother Michael from Brooklyn started a boots on the ground initiative to bring attention to local small businesses with a program to promote locals to shop local and support local stores. The initiative called #riseupredzone, is meant to bring attention to locals to help our local stores recover from the losses sustained while going through stages and weeks of closure as a result of government and local mandates in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative is now a movement being promoted in various parts of the city. Candidate for City Council of District 29 Avi Cyperstein joined up with Sorelle to go from store to store in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, to hang up signs in the local stores and to tell locals walking the streets about the initiative.
“We met at least one person who shared with us that they were going to buy something online /amazon that evening but instead chose to purchase it locally because of the initiative’ said Avi. “Just being on the street promoting this brought more business from a local to a local business. That’s how we can make a difference. One person at a time. One purchase at a time, one store at a time” continued Avi.
One shop owner Boris expressed how the City came to shut him down when they deemed him non essential and in an Orange zone. He showed the inspectors that they were mistaken and that he was in fact in a Yellow zone and permitted to be open. They made him close his store for 2 weeks anyway.
“He was literally crying as he told us this-How will I pay my rent? How will I pay my bills? The bills still come but the city doesn’t let me do business” said Avi as he recounted what the store owner said to him.
Another store owner told how his side of the street was a red zone but the other side was a yellow zone and when the city came to shut him down, he pointed out how people were crossing the street from a yellow to a red zone without restriction. “It makes no sense” the store owner, Moses said.
“As a volunteer first responder during Covid-19 I know how hard our neighborhoods were hit and I think we need to do everything we can to recover as quickly and safely as possible” said Avi.”When elected to NYC Council I will do everything in my ability and power to ensure that all options are entertained to ensure the longevity of our small businesses in a way that is safe for everyone. There are many ways to operate safely and we should never have to close these stores down again if we can exercise appropriate safety standards when shopping.”
Avi Cyperstein who is running for city council of district 29 which covers Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens, and Richmond Hill, concluded by saying “Now more than ever our local stores need our support. Please help our local stores stay open by shopping locally. Many of the local stores are now open again and we need to help these store owners survive. Please shop local. Eat local. Enjoy local. Support local”.0