Change is Afoot

I am old enough to go back in time and note change. I read about the fourth-generation butcher and sole owner of Albanese Meats & Poultry on Elizabeth Street, that turned 100 years old this year. It is the last of its kind in Little Italy, NYC.

How many mom-and-pop stores stood over a hundred years ago? Over time, some of those stores became chains. People started to move to the suburbs. Door-to-door delivery of dairy products ceased. Grocery stores that carried everything began to emerge. Groceries rely heavily on pre-made products vs. the ingredients to cook at home. Over the past 100 years, how we shop, live, and consume has changed a lot.

We used to purchase our clothes at small mom-and-pop shops, too, and at one point, the sewists made them in-house. Department stores became the one-stop shop. Brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Chanel grew into lifestyle companies. Department stores responded by creating private labels to balance out the business. Stores like Gap took market share away from department stores. The high luxury brands opened stores all over the globe, eating into the department stores business. With fast fashion and technology, brands are built without creative designers. Due to the destruction this industry has created on the planet, many do not want to consume as they have in the past. What’s next?

Decades ago, much of the city was sketchy. Urban areas began to change when the artists began to find inexpensive spots in those neighborhoods to live. That brought commerce to the area, and soon, prices changed, and those who had lived there for decades were forced to leave because the cost of housing got too high.

Everything evolves. Unfortunately, NYC has been controlled by the ways of real estate owners. Many sit on their properties, and many do not want to spend money to upgrade their properties for climate change, although thankfully, local law 97 will eventually force that change. Banks have loaned countless multi-real estate owners and developers money with little skin in the game. At one point, this is going to bite many in the ass.

There is something in the air that feels as if change is afoot. From over-saturated luxury brands to the cost of commercial and residential housing not connected to what people earn, how people want to buy their wares, and where they need change. More community-oriented? More personalization? More intimate spots? And dare I say having septuagenarians run our country is beginning to feel a bit long in the tooth, no pun intended.