The Real Deal New York

Chain stores and high rents batter bodegas

Some small groceries are closing, others are struggling

August 04, 2015 08:10AM


A bodega on Lexington Avenue

That staple of New York culture, the humble bodega, might be under threat.

The business climate for small, privately owned grocery and convenience stores is growing harsher, with pressure from rising rents and encroaching name brand competition.

There are 12,000 bodegas in the city. About 75 shuttered this year, mostly in East Harlem and Inwood, the New York Times reported.

The biggest pressure is rent. Average commercial rent grew by 34 percent from 2004 to 2014, though that figure was a more manageable 20 percent for Upper Manhattan realtors, according to REBNY.

Chain stores have also made an impact. There was a bumper crop of new chain stores in the city in 2014, the largest increase in four years and the sixth straight year of growth. The total number of new chain stores has risen to 7,473, according to the Center for an Urban Future.

City council member Robert Cornegy introduced a bill in July to protect bodegas and other small business in the city from harassment by their landlords. [NYT]Ariel Stulberg