Program Allows Businesses To Use Sidewalks, Curb SpaceBy CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Struggling businesses in New York City are being offered another chance to expand their footprint.

For Ann Cantrell, the owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn, the pandemic has changed the way they do business. So, when the city announced the Open Storefronts program in late October, she was on board.

“It was such a great option to have. We were able to connect with customers and not worry about capacity issues as much,” Cantrell told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.

MORE: New York City Launches ‘Open Storefronts’ Program, Allowing Businesses To Use Sidewalks, Curb Space

She took advantage of the outdoor space not just to help her shop but to help others.

“Some businesses that had closed during the pandemic, I invited them back. We had a big tent for Small Business Saturday, and it was really fun to be able to offer that to them and to help the community and bring us all together,” Cantrell said.

Her display out in front was taken down because that program was supposed to expire this week, but Mayor Bill de Blasio says it’ll stick around through Sept. 30, 2021.

“I’m going to sign this executive order to extend the Open Storefronts program,” the mayor said Tuesday.

Watch Mayor De Blasio’s Daily COVID Briefing —

He also made some changes to try to help more businesses.

“We’re going to add stores and restaurants that sell pre-packaged foods. We want to allow restaurants and other food stores to get out there and make their products available for takeout right out there on the sidewalks,” de Blasio said.

But the program isn’t for everyone. There are guidelines that need to be followed that include keeping a clear path and height restrictions.

“We were happy about the idea of the program. More what it came down to for us, the space that we had did not make sense in that capacity,” said Jim Jones, manager of Bicycle Habitat in Park Slope.

Jones says the Open Streets and Open Restaurants program helped invite more foot traffic, but even then, it didn’t work.

“We didn’t feel we had enough sidewalk space to warrant taking up what little we have for actually offering those services outside,” Jones said.

Throughout the city, the mayor’s office says 40,000 businesses qualified for the Open Storefronts program, but only a few hundred actually enrolled. It’s their hope when the weather gets warmer, the numbers will only go up.

Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

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