Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


I grew up in New York City. I know its streets like the back of my hand. And while it’s a shame that plenty of the more eccentric “New Yorkish” stores have vanished, they did so long ago and the real culprits weren’t “chain stores” but a constantly expanding real estate bubble that has made both housing and commercial rentals out of range of many people as every landlord tries to get more out of a space than he put into it.

The New York Daily News has two stupid editorials. One denounces AirBnb for taking “affordable housing” off the market. In fact AirBnb makes housing more affordable for those renting and for those who need to stay a limited amount of time.

The second editorial is an even crazier rant about chain stores.

Colony Records had thrived in Times Square for 60 years, until its new landlord reportedly quintupled the rent . After 24 years in the once-gritty, now glamorous Meatpacking District, ever popular Restaurant Florent had its rent shoot up nearly tenfold, from $6,000 to $50,000 per month.

What has replaced these cherished, quintessentially New York business? Almost entirely, it’s been national chains, bank branches or upscale boutiques and restaurants.

Moss here is moving the goalposts from chain stores to upscale restaurants. It’s not even clear how he defines chain stores. Does he believe that four outlets of a Latino restaurant or Korean nail salon are a chain store? I doubt it.

Times Square suddenly became a popular and tourist friendly place. I’m not fond of what it is now, but it is a vast improvement over what it was and were landlords really supposed to charge the same amount of rent for a new Times Square? Ditto for the new Meatpacking District.

It takes money and effort to remake a neighborhood into someplace you don’t trip over bodies. That’s going to be reflected in sale prices and rents.

It seems every week we hear of another authentic New York spot to vanish, from Gray’s Papaya and Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers to little Jim’s Shoe Repair (on East 59th St. since 1932, it’s getting pushed out so Walgreens’ Duane Reade can expand).

Sure New York needs another Duane Reade like it needs another column complaining about how many of them there are. The underlying problem is that DRs and Starbucks wouldn’t be opening on every corner if they didn’t meet the needs of new city residents.

It’s that simple.

There’s a new population in New York and four dollar bottled water and ten dollar lattes meet their needs in a way that the quirkier places don’t. That’s just life and there is no solution for it.

If former Mayor Giuliani could keep adult businesses from operating near one another, then de Blasio can keep national chains from doing the same.

Starbucks and Marc Jacobs should not be allowed to have multiple stores within a few blocks, and we don’t need Walgreens down the street from CVS.

If we don’t have Walgreens across the street from CVS then neither of them will ever leave. Moss wants to build in monopolies for the chain stores he hates. Like most social justice warrior preservationists, he isn’t very bright.

Then, pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act to create fair negotiations of commercial lease renewals, so landlords can’t use insane rent hikes to evict dependable business people.

Give fines to landlords who leave commercial spaces vacant, creating blight while they wait for the right price.

So the city would tell landlords what they can charge, regardless of their costs and mortgage payments. Prices would plummet, actual blight would set in and that magical 70s/80s NYC disaster that idiots like this dream of on their Instagram accounts would be back.

Not that Bill de Blasio isn’t bringing it back anyway.

I have fond memories of plenty of vanished stores. And most of the truly local stores are gone. Measures like this wouldn’t protect them. They would go on protecting the bodegas and 99 cent stores that sell substandard junk while denying access to more useful stores.

New York City could use a Walmart. The Kmarts and the Home Depots are useful. Only an idiot would deny that. The alternatives to those stores are miserable and offer as much neighborhood value as Times Square’s former denizens.

A lot of the unconventional places that New York City has lost, record stores, book stores, theaters, were doomed anyway for obvious reasons. Ditto for the department stores and clothing stores.

Maybe Moss has a plan to keep Amazon at bay. France does. And their economy isn’t anything to envy.

Stores open because people shop at them. And the customer is always right.