New York City’s hipster and elitist class seem to believe that they should have some role in determining what business owners do with their property. Like hipsters and elitists around the country, New York’s cohort are banding together to protest companies that do not present the utopian vision for the neighbors where these elites dwell (most of whom are renters, by the way). There is much buzz in New York City right now because more and more national chains are setting up shop causing great consternation. In a recent AM New York newspaper story, readers get a sense of the angst:

An influx of chain restaurants and food shops over the past few years has some New Yorkers decrying a trend of “suburbanization,” as national brands like 7-Eleven, IHOP, Starbucks, Subway and more open in increasing numbers and threaten to push out the mom-and-pop shops that have defined the city for generations.

In 2012, the number of chains here jumped 2.4% from 2011, according to a study from the Center for an Urban Future, marking the fifth year in a row of an increase in national chains in the city. And with a Denny’s slated to open downtown later this year, two new recent IHOP franchises in downtown Manhattan and many new 7-Elevens on the way, some New Yorkers have had enough.

According to the article, residents are complaining about the chains because “there are way too many. They’re part of a larger trend of suburbanization that’s been going on in the city,” says Jeremiah Moss, who runs the blog Vanishing New York “These are not one-of-a-kind businesses, they’re clones of each other, and they don’t feel like New York because they’re not of New York,” Moss laments.

These laments raise really interesting questions like: Why does a neighborhood need to only have one-of-a-kind businesses? When has that ever been a sustainable model in the history of business? By what authority do elites like Moss get to decide what businesses appear in New York City and which ones do not? The questions could go on.

Wait, there’s more. There is one group on New York that has specifically formed to protest 7-Eleven stores. The group “No 7-Eleven” began to fight the influx of 7-Eleven stores across New York but has since expanded to protest chains in general. Imagine that. They started out with one concept and expanded. I wonder if this sounds familiar to them? At any rate, the group says that they “intend to defend local commerce and community character from homogenized, corporate chain stores and franchises.” The group says, “The chain stores in New York City take away from the city’s character,” according to the AM New York article. “Anything special, unique or culturally significant in New York City is being pushed out and replaced with big brand names and predictable experiences the tourists and transients feel safe with.”

Have these hipsters and elites ever bothered to asked this one simple question: why are the chains coming to New York City? Here’s a clue: New York is the most expensive state in America to run a business and the city is even worse. Because of the cascade of government regulations and high rents, due to rent control in the city, the only stores that can afford to absorb the additional regulatory costs are big chains. New Yorkers, like all consumers, want the best prices for the things that they buy and big chains can afford to make decisions about the importance of branding versus slightly lower margins on products sold in stores. “Mom and Pop” stores cannot afford the same trade off. As one small business owner recently told me, “You can’t beat a corporation that can operate on a 5% margin.”

In the end, hipsters and elites in New York need to face the reality that, in the real world, businesses come and go and neighborhoods change. When small businesses cannot meet market demands any company will appear to meet the demand more efficiently and at a competitive price. Controlling a neighborhood’s “character” for the sake of maintaining an elitist social vision does nothing but keep people from getting what they actually need.


  • maria565

    This is ridiculous New York is currently ruled by elites, but that is not who is rightfully complaining about chain stores, we are not complaining that there should only be one type of business quite the opposite, do you know anything at all about NYC? have you ever even been here? Who thought it was a good idea that you write an article on this topic?

  • maria565

    This is ridiculous New York is currently ruled by elites, but that is not who is rightfully complaining about chain stores, we are not complaining that there should only be one type of business quite the opposite, do you know anything at all about NYC? have you ever even been here? Who thought it was a good idea that you write an article on this topic?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.richards Tony Richards

    He quotes exactly one “hipster” second hand (are you a hipster just because you have a blog?), no elitists (I would have gladly granted him an interview) and one fringe website. Mr. Bradley gets a D- in Freshman English for his lack of documentation to back up his truly silly assertion.

  • citizen bob

    Where do I begin…?
    Perhaps at the end of your misinformed article?

    “…Controlling a neighborhood’s “character” for the sake of maintaining an elitist social vision does nothing but keep people from getting what they actually need.”

    Yes, agreed.
    I SO ACTUALLY need a 3 day old 7-11 hotdog wrapped in a nasty Taco Bell shell to wash down my iHop heartburn. But please, no worries for my health…Can’t swing a cat in this town without hitting a chain drugstore.

    Your arguments do not hold water in the largest Slurpee cup.

    You incorrectly state the high cost of doing business in NYC is due to “rent control”. The exact OPPOSITE is true. There are NO pricing controls on commercial NYC real estate. This has caused STD-like rash of big box stores and chains and, in equal measure, the pustules of empty commercial spaces–kept empty by greed.

    NYC commercial real estate is the Great Hamster Wheel on Meth.
    “Hipsters” and “Elites” do not dictate or spin that wheel.
    Greed does. Period.

    “…By what authority do elites like Moss get to decide what businesses appear in New York City and which ones do not?”

    Last I checked, Mr. Moss was indeed The Decider on All Things Big Box. What?
    Thank you, Jeremiah Moss (the elite-i-estdude ever!) and his fabulous blog Vanishing New York for celebrating the unusual, quirky uniqueness that you, Dr. Bradley, so obviously do not get at all.

    May I call you Dr. Bradley? With at least four advanced degrees under your belt, it’s funny to me that you use elite as an insult when convenient to your weak ideas.

    “…When small businesses cannot meet market demands any company will appear to meet the demand more efficiently and at a competitive price”.

    Ever dealt with Staples customer service or $8 bandaids?
    Have you actually BEEN in any chain stores recently?
    Do you even live here?

    I do live here and I grew up here. It is always changing. NYC’s middle name is change. People are drawn to (and repelled from) NYC for a thousand reasons. But a main attraction for so many is the unique experience of BEING IN this UNusual city full of change.

    NYC is made unique by the residents, especially those who built wonderful small businesses, eateries, performance spaces and galleries. They’ve sustained communities and kept cultures alive and flourishing. There are one of a kind things in NYC you cannot experience or PARTICIPATE in elsewhere.

    Those are only a few reasons NYC is not just another ANYwhere.
    We don’t want to live ANYwhere. If we did, we’d live ELSEwhere.

    New Yorkers are not opposed to chain stores in particular. The majority of us simply don’t want our unique city to be overtaken by the run of the mill chain, or malled with mall shops. That’s what Zipcars are for…to cross the great divides and get our fill of supersizing and warehouses packed with hospital size double ply toilet paper. ANYwhere else.

    If you love Stamford, CT so much, move there.
    I hear they have a fabulous hipster free Denny’s!

  • J_O_R

    The only hipster elite here is the author of this blog for writing this. Talk about an aristocratic irony.

  • nyc54

    Before you start throwing around more insults, why don’t you stop and think how you would feel if this was going on in your hometown? If all the businesses you frequent were having their rents doubled and tripled by greedy landlords so they could be replaced by empty bank branches and chain stores? Or even worse, sometimes they just sit empty for months. I know what you are thinking, if you don’t like it then don’t live in NYC. Well, unfortunately that is exactly what I have started to think, and it’s heartbreaking.

    • andrelot

      It is called change. People are NOT entitled to have business serving them as some sort of right, especially if there are more lucrative uses for real estate or other business.

  • G.Alessandrini

    You can’t be loving New York or know NY well if you write this kind of article. Can’t you see the soul of this wonderful city is slowly vanishing ? Some of the hipsters are actually similar to the chains invading NY (think of the hotels in the meat market, trendy stores that took over the village, etc.). just be a litlle curious of NY’s past before writing such a lame article…or maybe haev a look at my photos from the 1990’s..Not that long ago, when NY was still..New York !
    G.A
    http//galessandrini@blogspot.fr

  • G.Alessandrini

    You can’t be loving New York or know NY well if you write this kind of article. Can’t you see the soul of this wonderful city is slowly vanishing ? Some of the hipsters are actually similar to the chains invading NY (think of the hotels in the meat market, trendy stores that took over the village, etc.). just be a litlle curious of NY’s past before writing such a lame article…or maybe haev a look at my photos from the 1990’s..Not that long ago, when NY was still..New York !
    G.A
    http//galessandrini@blogspot.fr

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    If you are going to criticize activists please get your terminology correct. Activists are usually neither hipsters nor members of the elite. They are more ften than not long time residents of communities that have a defined identity, and it is the elitists that decide that homogenization is just what unique neighborhoods need, because it is “good business practice”,

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