By Leslie Boghosian Murphy
Local businesses have long been the economic heartbeat of our neighborhoods in New York City. How many of us have been saved by a 24-hour deli when we suddenly discovered we’d run out of milk, diapers or ice cream? Or experienced the joy of finding a perfect anniversary card for that special someone at a neighborhood Mom-and-Pop card store? Or the triumph of discovering a one-of-a-kind top at the local vintage shop you can’t find online?
These businesses don’t just offer great local shopping experiences, they add to the character of our area and help break down a big, anonymous city into cozy, familiar neighborhoods. I am the daughter of small business owners. My parents, aunt and uncle opened “Mainly Cheese” when I was young and I remember my mom waking up before dawn to start making the Armenian cheese for the day and my dad returning way after dark. I would do my homework behind the counter and help out at the register. It was a true family-owned shop and I know the sweat equity that went into it. It is why I am so strongly concentrating on the effort to bring back our businesses.
COVID has shuttered many of our West Village favorites but, truth be told, local businesses were struggling even before the pandemic. The “Amazon effect” has made it difficult for shops to compete with the ease and convenience of one-stop, online shopping that arrives at your door before you even remember you ordered something.
Many electeds and candidates have been offering relief plans and tax strategies, which are valid, but we have to think broader. We have to reimagine how we shop local.
Looking for innovative solutions I discovered a new, local e-commerce platform in Brooklyn, ShopIN.NYC.
ShopIN.NYC provides New York City shoppers the ease of one-stop shopping and same-day delivery from their local businesses. The platform is run by locals, and helps neighborhoods empower themselves to keep money in the community.
I saw the success ShopIN was having in Brooklyn and immediately knew I had to get it across the river and into my district. We all want to support our local businesses, we just needed the tools. This platform would allow residents in the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen to go online and receive the same convenient and speedy experience as Amazon but purchasing from their local shops.
“Early during our Manhattan expansion, Leslie contacted us,” said Maya Komerov, ShopIN’s founder. “She was quick to understand that we’ve started a movement in NYC to empower New Yorkers and she acted right away to enlist the power of ShopIN to help her district strengthen their neighborhoods through local commerce.”
After many meetings and discussions I am proud to say ShopIN.NYC’s first move into Manhattan is in our neighborhood and our residents and businesses will have direct benefits. Our local shops are the places that help create healthy and vibrant neighborhoods and we depend on their survival. We have to fight to save them.
My campaign for NY City Council has a dedicated business outreach team and we are working with local stores to help weather the COVID storm and onboard to ShopIN.NYC, if they feel the model will help them. West Village favorite, Li-Lac Chocolates and Chelsea’s Kidding Around are the latest locals to join the platform.
“It’s hitting three birds with one stone. It’s helping local businesses, local customers, and local delivery people,” says Christina Clark of Kidding Around, a family-owned Chelsea toy store. “It’s important to have politicians realize that we have to do something. Leslie came along and said ‘What can we do? How can I help?’ Leslie is rolling up her sleeves. That’s what she’s done, and I’m grateful.”
ShopIN.NYC was founded by a female entrepreneur, pays their delivery drivers $20-$25 an hour and hires all local New Yorkers, facts I believe are important.
“We don’t deal with candidates or politicians often but it was encouraging to work with Leslie and her team,” added Komerov. “She cares about her neighborhood.”
“New York is a group of small communities,” said Clark. “It’s nice to see someone with a public policy vision,” referring to Boghosian Murphy. “And to stick it to Amazon.”
Leslie Boghosian Murphy is a candidate for NY City Council for District 3 covering the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The work with ShopIN.NYC is part of a larger initiative that Boghosian Murphy will be promoting for small businesses in her District.
Effective immediately, residents in 10001, 10011, 10012, 10013, 10014, 10018, 10019, 10023, 10024, 10025 and 10036 zip codes will have access to order and get same-day delivery from ShopIN’s full list of stores on their site, including all the stores in Brooklyn. Boghosian Murphy is continuing to help interested businesses in District 3 join the platform.