By Lachlan Markay
Scribe reported last week on the extensive damage to small businesses wrought by the “Occupy” protests being staged around the country.
In lower Manhattan, business owners are fighting back. Having been forced to endure nearly half a million dollars in lost revenue, they are planning to stage a counter-protest. At 5 pm, they will gather on the steps of City Hall to speak out against the “Occupy Wall Street” tent city, which has remained in Zuccotti Park for nearly two months.
A recent survey by the New York Post showed that local businesses have taken a hit as a result of the protests. The Post reported:
The Occupy Wall Street movement has cost surrounding businesses $479,400 so far, store owners said.
A Post survey of a dozen restaurants, jewelry shops, beauty salons, a chain store and mom-and-pop establishments tallied almost a half-million dollars lost in the 53 days since the Zuccotti Park siege began on Sept. 17.
“My customers used to take food to eat in the park, but now they can’t,” he lamented.
With clogged streets, aggressive signs and stories of predators and criminals lurking among the knot of protesters, business owners and managers say shoppers are not taking the risk of coming to the area.
Other cities have seen occupiers do comparable damage to local businesses. Though they haven’t yet taken to the streets, business owners in Oakland, California have petitioned the city government to help abate the economically destructive protests there.
On Tuesday, members of the commercial business district in downtown Oakland sent a three-page letter to Mayor Jean Quan, demanding that the protesters go. Five city council members held a press conference Wednesday reaffirming the demand.
“The impact of the urban encampment has been very negative,” says Paul Junge, public policy director for the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Three businesses with commitments to new leases in the downtown area, which would have brought in some 350 jobs, backed out of their agreements in the past three weeks, he says.
“We are aware of dozens of small businesses in and around Frank Ogawa Plaza where the tents are, reporting 40 to 50 percent losses in the past three or four weeks,” including clothing stores, coffee shops, and conference spaces, Mr. Junge says. “People don’t like walking around down there, it makes them nervous … they are taking their business elsewhere.”
The protests may be rooted in economic grievances, but they seem to be doing more harm to the economy than good in the cities where protests have appeared.