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CityLab
Economy

How Cities Can Save Small Shops

Some places are already taking action, but New York City is lagging behind. Here’s a blueprint for keeping local retail healthy.
This space on First Avenue has been vacant for months.
This space on First Avenue has been vacant for months. Karen Loew

Over its two decades in business, Jane’s Exchange, a secondhand children’s and maternity clothing shop in Manhattan’s East Village, has clothed generations of diverse New Yorkers and served as a de facto resource center, water cooler, and play spot. When she’s not running Jane’s Exchange, the co-owner Gayle Raskin, who also lives nearby, is usually active elsewhere in the community.

Especially on this island of the empty storefront, her shop is a textbook example of why shopping local matters: The store fills a need, employs local residents, re-invests locally, supplies warmth and personality to a city block, and supports neighborhood connections and institutions, which support it back.