Something's Going Down in Chinatown
Recently I took a stroll through New York City’s infamous Chinatown and to my surprise I noticed a drastic change seems to be coming about rather rapidly in the area. My initial purpose of making my way down there was to pick up art supplies that I needed for an upcoming project. Yet I couldn’t help but to go on somewhat of a little investigation after taking a good look around. Chinatown is quickly becoming a ghost town! Well, at least as far as the retail tenants’ spaces go.
As I walked along I saw numerous vacant spaces, one after another, on my left and on my right. These were not just your typical little gap-in-the-wall spaces, many of them were huge spaces! Another thing I happened to notice, were three very well-dressed Jewish men in business attire with kippahs perfectly positioned on their heads. These men were not merely waltzing along to catch the best deal on wholesale sunglasses or knock-off colognes. It was obvious they had a completely different definition of “shop” in mind.
While one pointed to an empty retail hull on the opposite side of Canal Street, the other two seemed to be logging the addresses of other prospective store fronts in each of their smart phones. And all the while this was going on, people were milling about as usual as tourists surfed from shop to shop for discounts on souvenirs.
The street peddlers still seem to be in the mix of things however there seemed to be fewer groups of them. With many of the newer businesses which have recently opened their doors on the row, replacing glass, renovating their facades and hanging upscale signs above brand new awnings, these things are an obvious signal that the old familiar sidewalk out front of these establishments is no longer selling spot for peddlers. For the time being the die-hard peddlers are hanging on, but with far less stability than the old card tables many of them have used in the past as sidewalk countertops.
Many of the African as well as the Chinese peddlers have resorted to selling their goods straight out of large garbage bags. Perhaps this method of moving their goods is more convenient for them should there be a need to quickly pick up their bundles and move to avoid any by-the-book officer enforcing any new ordinance or law regarding merchant permits, zoning, etc.