By Anthony Valencia
With many businesses closed down or recovering from the devastating effects of the global pandemic, a new service aims to empower small businesses and encourage consumers to shop locally.
Pyazza was started in the West Village by a group of neighbors who decided to take action late last year after seeing many empty store fronts. The group made it their mission to do something about the countless shops struggling to stay afloat as a result of the pandemic.
The adaptations forced upon businesses and consumers by COVID-19 put local merchants at risk. People practicing social distancing couldn’t conveniently shop in person in their local neighborhoods. Instead, they turned to large online retail chain stores and established national delivery services.
As an unintended consequence, neighborhood boutiques and markets have found themselves severely disadvantaged. The “heart and soul” of the local community is also at risk of dying from COVID-19 because of the social changes it has engendered.
Pyazza hopes to connect the community and its many valued shops. Debra Cameros, a Pyazza customer, is a real estate agent who enjoys the convenience of having her produce delivered to her door. “My schedule can be unpredictable, and Pyazza gives me the opportunity to have my produce delivered when I don’t have time to make it down to Union Square. It’s been an enormous help for me.”
One of the merchants benefitting from the new Pyazza delivery service is O. Ottomanelli & Sons. Gerry and his brothers Frankie and Joe run the acclaimed butcher shop on Bleecker Street. Mr. Ottomanelli described his background and his view of Pyazza as follows:
“My father started on Bleecker Street about 70 years ago. It was a small one-man shop when he started. At the time there were a number of other butchers here. It was like a nice family neighborhood, you know, a big Italian family working here, and many locals shopping here. Then he opened another store and became successful on Bleecker Street. It was a very competitive place, so we always had high quality. That’s how he did his business.
“Bleecker Street, at the time, was a mecca for food. There were six butcher shops, three fish markets, and three bread stores, and open-air markets also ran from Sixth Avenue to Seventh Avenue.
“We have some customers that are, you know, the same customers for thirty or forty years, but the Village is in constant change, always changing, and you adapt and change with it. The one thing that our customers have always wanted is quality, so we stay with that—and variety. People’s tastes, they change. They travel, and when they come back, they want to cook what they had abroad, like game meat, and so we adapt to that too.
“Our customers’ wishes are our command. What they want, we’ll do. We don’t have meat already pre-cut—everything is cut to order. We grind the hamburger meat fresh to the customers’ specifications, you know, we don’t pre-grind it. Even though it’s the modern age, we still do it the old-fashioned way. We try and keep in touch with the people.
“I think Pyazza is a great service. Especially now. People can’t get out and they want to be able to order from their local stores rather than big trucking firms, which is basically what [the retail chain stores] are. And for Pyazza to pick it up and deliver, I think that’s fantastic. I think Pyazza is doing a great job and I hope they grow. Like we grew from 70 years ago, I hope they grow also. You’ve got to give the customers quality, give them service, which Pyazza provides. They go hand in hand—quality and service.”
Pyazza can be contacted through its website at Pyazza.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.