Locally Owned


This past weekend, 30 or so people gathered at 383 West Broadway in SoHo to smoke cigars and catch up. This is the site of the now permanently closed OK Cigars, where guys (and a few gals) had been smoking, and (more importantly) becoming friends for the past 17 years. The building has sold, and H&M or some other big box store will take over soon: it's tough making a living in retail in New York City. But locally owned places to gather are important for New Yorkers--vital; whether it's a cigar shop or a barbershop or a deli or a running store: New Yorkers find THEIR place, and then visit it religiously. I would argue that community is treasured most in big cities: we want to be part of something small and significant amid the chaos. So when those places close up shop, or get bought out by something bigger, customers take it personally. People--maybe especially New Yorkers--have a need to tell their story. This happened to me today, this is what I'm working on, this is where I've been and what I've seen. And if shop owners and workers are smart, they'll listen, and care: they'll learn something. Jackrabbit Sports joins the ranks of locally owned stores, where people stopped by just to chat and laugh, that has been bought out by a bigger entity. Maybe all of the conversations won't end: maybe some of the employees who went through 3 months of training in order to talk about the biomechanics of feet will stick around. But probably, this store won't remain a religion; probably, the customers will find a new place to have community.