How Are Business Impacted By Occupy Wall Street?
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. We're going to hear now about the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York or, rather, about the area around Zuccotti Park where demonstrators have encamped. It's not far from the 9/11 Memorial and it's home to many businesses. From Brooks Brothers to a local bagel vendor, all have been forced to reckon with the pros and cons of having a large protest in the neighborhood.
NPR's Margot Adler reports now on how they're faring.
MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: At the Michal Golen Gallery filled with jewelry and gifts one block from Zuccotti Park, Oranit Sosa stands behind the counter. Their business hasn't suffered, she says. Her only real complaint: too much foot traffic.
ORANIT SOSA: It's annoying when you want to get something, you know - lunchtime and also when you're leaving at night to get to the subway, it takes a little bit longer.
ADLER: Food carts line the sidewalk at Zuccotti Park and they tell a mixed story. Coffee is up; falafel is down. Sam Edad(ph) sells falafel.
SAM EDAD: It's almost the same. Almost the same. Not very good, not very bad. It's a little down, but it's okay.
ADLER: Right next to the falafel stand is a cart selling coffee, bagels and danish. Zeinav Elnadouri hails from Egypt and tells me, at the start of the protest, she lost lots of customers, but happily, many came back.
ZEINAV ELNADOURI: Ten, fifteen percent more. Yeah. But for my business, for the coffee, because everybody like coffee. But for the lunch, they are down.
ADLER: So those guys that sell gyros, falafels and other lunch items are taking a hit because anyone can get free pizza or hummus or even the corn bread and guacamole I saw yesterday at the free lunch that Occupy Wall Street serves. Dunkin Donuts has been doing well primarily because of the men in blue. Muhammed Zubair.
MUHAMMED ZUBAIR: Yeah. More people are coming over because a lot of policemen are here, so - yeah.
ADLER: So the policemen are giving you some business?
ADLER: Sephora, the cosmetics store, is across the street. They refused to be interviewed, writing down the phone number of their marketing department, but privately, salespeople said everything's normal. And it was crowded.
Brooks Brothers was quieter. They also gave out a corporate number, but privately, a salesman said he was angry at the barricades that hinder people from entering the store on weekends.
Occupy Wall Street has just begun to send mediators into stores to talk with people. They have fliers they hand out to businesses with a number they can access 24/7 if there are complaints or problems. Suzanne Sutton is on the Mediation Committee. Complaints include that the barriers make it difficult for trucks to make deliveries. Sutton lists other things that have come up.
SUZANNE SUTTON: The amount of foot traffic into bathrooms. There was a sink that got broken. I don't know who, where, whatever, what happened, but we did find out about that and one of our plumbers here did go and fix it.
ADLER: Then there is the loud drumming. After negotiations, the hours of daily drumming have been reduced to four.
Back at the jewelry and gift store, Oranit Sosa says her business depends on tourists, not protesters, and tourism hasn't stopped.
SOSA: Tourists are tourists, no matter where you come from, no matter where you go, you go to shop, to have fun. They aren't really involved with the news. You know what I'm saying?
ADLER: There is an old joke that if someone ran naked through the streets of Manhattan few would notice. What's helping businesses most in this situation may be that old truism. We're kind of oblivious here. Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.
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