BRONXVILLE N.Y. – Residents are able to save money by shopping online and at retail chains, and that has forced an increasing number of longstanding Bronxville businesses to close.
If residents fully understood the financial consequences of their actions, then maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to shop online, said Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin.
"Of course, nobody likes the idea of sales tax, but in the end they're going to spend the money regardless," Marvin said. "If residents shop online, their sales tax savings will eventually come back in the form of higher local property taxes or a decrease in municipal services. In contrast, a purchase made in Bronxville sends money directly back to our school and village government."
For every $100 spent in a locally owned independent store, $68 returns to the home community, Marvin said. The same amount spent at a mall or chain store returns $48, and if spent on the Internet the community gets nothing back, she said.
If the flow of money stays in Bronxville, not only will it vitalize the community, but it also will make it an ideal place to live, said Susan Miele, executive director of the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce.
"More important than keeping the business district profitable, many of the merchants actually live in the community," Miele said. "Not only do they live and work here, but they always support the community, from the school to various nonprofits, by holding fundraisers and donating raffle items. If they go out of business, do you really think that Amazon is going to serve that role?"
Another possible reason for the high number of vacant stores could be how high rent can be in the area, said Susan Piper, co-owner of The Silk Road and president of the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce.
"I've been lucky enough to have a good landlord who is very reasonable with rent, but I know that some other people aren't so lucky, Piper said. "With the economy being so rough, many people either are either not shopping as much or shopping online to save money. It becomes hard for stores to remain in business if the costs to keep open are unreasonably high.”
In addition to dealing with the problem internally, Bronxville can do a better job at promoting its business district to outside communities, Miele said.
"There's no reason why residents from Yonkers and New Rochelle aren't shopping here for their needs," she said. "There are so many people that live nearby who haven’t ever stepped foot in our village. But trust me, once they do they almost always absolutely fall in love with it. We live in a special place filled with unique mom-and-pop shops. I'm proud of it, and hoping to sustain it for generations to come."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.