NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to do for small businesses what he did for restaurants: Open up the streets and allow them to sell their wares there.

As CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer reports, it could be a shot in the arm for small businesses.

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At a Manhattan pet goods store, instead of waiting for people to come inside with all their social distancing concerns, Catherine Begley can now sell her pet supplies on the street, and maybe even attract a four-legged customer or two with her treats.

“If things are on the street already it will help a lot. It will be a big benefit,” Begley said.

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Begley, the owner of Pet Market NYC, says Mayor de Blasio’s decision to allow businesses to take the streets to sell their products would be a boon to her business and others hurt by the pandemic.

Some 40,000 New York City businesses can qualify for the “Open Storefronts” program.

“Let’s liberate the outdoor spaces for them and help their businesses to continue,” de Blasio said.

Businesses will be able to set up tables and racks five feet into the sidewalk, and if they’re in an open street area, they may be allowed in the road bed as well.

“Businesses can erect temporary signage. They can use umbrellas to protect them from the elements, but at the end of the day, the business must bring the equipment back inside,” said Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris.

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“The most critical thing is that each business must maintain an eight foot path for pedestrians to pass to make sure the sidewalks are unimpeded,” said Deputy DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione.

“We’re giving them the opportunity to get out in front of their stores and also engage their customers, do transactions right in front of the store and also allow them to free up some space inside to keep it safe and keep the traffic moving, as we need to,” Doris said.

Businesses can start street sales on Friday and continue through Dec. 31.

Click here for more information about how to apply. 

City officials describe it as something like a winter market to help with holiday sales, since most do 70% of their annual business between now and the end of the year. And for Mayor de Blasio, never a fan of the Internet, it was another opportunity to say “buy local.”

“It’s a great opportunity to patronize your local business. Look, everyone, we all appreciate the amazing stuff online, but let’s really double down on our local businesses here in the city. Let’s give the businesses so they can survive,” de Blasio said.

Critics say the new program could be problematic for businesses in Greenwich Village, TriBeCa and SoHo, who may not have the necessary sidewalk space.


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