26 November 2007

More Evidence City Hates Small Businesses

City Hall must be running out of ideas on how to drive mom-and-pop stores out of business and make things a little easier for their big-box, chain-retailer friends. Brooklyn Paper reported over the weekend that the government has started to crack down on sidewalk sandwich-board signs, those a-frame, folding jobbies that shops put out in front of their stores in hopes of attracting shoppers.

Now, come on. What lousy lunch or spousal argument led an idle bureaucrat to issue this pointless fiat? Has there been a rash of sandwich-board murders, with culprits offing citizens with hosted placards when guns and knives proved unavailable? Did Bloomberg trip over a "hot soup" sign and drop his gold-plated money clip down a manhole? How are these things harming anyone? The City argues that they obstruct the sidewalk, and has been handing out $100-$300 tickets. This is nonsense. Aside from impeding the progress of a holdup man trying desperately to make his getaway (which would be a good thing), I can't imagine how any of these signs has even gotten in anyone's way. Everyone out there who has every trucking down the sidewalk and found his path obstructed by a sandwich board, raise your hand.

I thought so.

I don't know about you, but when I look at old photos of Fourth Avenue or Essex Street or whatever shopping strip, the thing I love is the riot of small-scale signage running perpendicular to the street. Hanging signs jutting up above your head, visible from a block away, and sidewalk signs, usually hand-painted or hand-drawn. It adds an extra dimension to the urban landscape. So much more attractive and visually stimulating that the flat, one-dimensional sea of neon we get these days. It also provides small vendors with a no-cost way to advertise. After all, Rite Aid and Staples don't need sidewalk signs; they've got two-foot-tall, firetruck-red letters that scream what they are. But I guess there's no chance that a sign so big and garish as that might actually stop people in their tracks and obstruct traffic. No, no chance of that at all.


Barbara L. Hanson said...

I really can't stand this anymore. The city is being stripped to its core of any originality or humanity. Only things sanctioned by aesthetics of the robotic Bostonian allowed. Can't wait until he's gone.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

What can we do, Barbara? Is there anything we can do? The world at large is so convinced we've got the greatest mayor on Earth. Nobody seems to be spotting the toxic, lobotomizing undertow of his reign.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Brooks, if you didn't see this last night, try to rent it. Small towns fighting Starbucks, Wal-Mart, etc., in order to preserve local businesses. Sadly, because our local government is so pro-big-business, little of it is applicable here, but it's a heartening film nonetheless. (Every time I walk into my local, I expect the Bloomberg police to come busting in, after kicking over the 2-for-1 happy hour board outside, waving rubber gloves and tongs at the bartenders.)

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Speaking of which, do you ever go to the last unspoiled bar in the neighborhood? I'm afraid to say its name, for obvious reasons. Straight, gay, black, white, Asian, old, young. It's one helluva bar.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Barbara: Leave me a message in my "Contact Me" box naming the bar in question and I'll tell you if I frequent it.