Landlords control fate of small businesses as shutdown wears on

City curfew has added further pressure to businesses struggling for survival


Along Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue, large numbers of small-business owners are in talks with their landlords about rent relief as the shutdown heads into its third month.

For some, the outcome of those talks can mean the difference between staying open and closing for good, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Vera Tong, one of the owners of Du Jour Bakery in Brooklyn, said she became frustrated when her landlord suggested a number of grants she could be eligible for.

“I was like: Don’t you think I apply for those?” she told the Journal. “I apply for everything that’s out there. I apply for things that don’t even make sense for me.”

They eventually settled on a 50 percent cut. For others, there’s no such flexibility.

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Nikolai Barricelli, owner of Fitness Evolved, said he decided to close his business because his landlord wouldn’t give him any rent relief. “I said, ‘Why don’t you give us a couple months of free rent during the crisis and then maybe we’ll be able to reopen as opposed to losing us forever?’” Barricelli told the Journal. “He wouldn’t budge.”

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The governor issued a moratorium on evictions until Aug. 20. However, some in the business community say that has also created tension as landlords struggle with their own financial pressures.

This week, a citywide curfew raised the stakes further for several businesses, including restaurants hoping for an uptick in business. Some retailers even took to standing outside their business during the rallies — both in solidarity and as a protective measure. [WSJ] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan