The importance of small businesses in the New York City economy has passed the litmus test, especially during the pandemic and post-pandemic, which proved not to be a barrier for this type of business that has shown great adaptability.
The ventures in the city are very diverse, of all kinds, reality shows that they are not only linked to the neighborhoods, many ventures are established in different neighborhoods and even far from the place of residence of their owners. The diverse and variable nature of the city has caused small enterprises to develop their own survival resources and there is no rigidly defined scheme or model to ensure their success.
Technology has certainly played an important role in this process and cell phones operate like mini-computers through which it is possible to carry out promotions on social networks, fill out applications for permits, make inquiries of all kinds, etc. as well as communicate with possible partners, clients, professionals, etc., etc., etc.
During the Christmas season, we published about several Latinos who participated in the most important fairs in the city, among them several women, but there are also others who keep working to promote their services on social networks, others who maintain traditional practices, fostering relationships in the neighborhood with the communities in the area, but all of them are the basis of an economy based on diversity. Below is a sample of these three different types of entrepreneurship among Latinos in the city.
We met Victoria Bekerman while participating in the Columbus Christmas Fair with her fine jewelry creations, this Argentine designer tells us that in the past she was participating for a long time, with other types of products, in the fairs in Unión Square and in Gran Central, but that this year he decided to participate in the fair in Columbus Circle, which is organized by a private company, not by a government entity or a community or business group.
He tells us that participating with a small kiosk in the fair, for a little less than a month, cost him six thousand dollars. It was an individual effort, but he tells us that it was worth it, that he managed to recover the investment, that is, that there was no loss. That this year, despite the fact that there were not as many people as in previous years due to the new variants of Covid, there were people and there were sales, that people passed by and bought, that they feel very satisfied to have participated.
Regarding aid from the local government, he affirms that “with the pandemic there was a lot of information that we shared with other artists, to apply for loans, to study, but the truth is that we did not apply.” Sharing information about available help and resources as part of solidarity that flourished in the midst of the pandemic, especially among members of like-minded groups. But Victoria affirms that she has not really had direct information from local government agencies, or from other related entities.
For the Peruvian chef Ezequiel Valencia, the best way to survive and progress has been to open a new restaurant, but not in New York, -where he lives and where he has worked for the last ten years-, but in New Jersey, because he affirms that “ First of all, the rents are lower, more convenient, while in New York you practically have to work to pay the rent and secondly, the procedures and paperwork are less problematic, less complicated, in New York it costs more and is more difficult, it takes time a lot, while in New Jersey it all came out in two months.”
Chef Valencia affirms that despite having been affected by Covid at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, which he believes was due to using the city’s public transport, he has not received any help and has kept his two restaurants, one in Corona and another in Brooklyn, with his effort and that of his wife Rosita. That the only means of promotion they use are social networks and the appreciation of friends and acquaintances who know about the quality of their food, but who do not receive information from any government entity.
At the restaurant level, there is great competition, there are food businesses of all kinds and of all sizes, but in the end, even though people refrain from going out, traveling, going to the movies or events, they never stop eating, because it is a vital need and in that sense, if one has an established name, prestige in quality and service, one can stay afloat in the midst of adversity. The community repays the help, “I have always supported my community when it has asked me and that is why I feel that they appreciate it and that sooner or later they reciprocate, that is, there is mutual support, and I also do not depend on a chef to maintain my restaurants, the chef is me
FIRST OF ALL QUALITY
After a long time working on the housework for a family as an intern, that is, full time, Honoring Melgarejo decided to become independent and once she obtained her documents, she decided with her husband to open their own business, a warehouse of Mexican products in where natural juices, smoothies, and sandwiches are also prepared. The effort has been great and the husbands spend most of the day attending to their business in Washington Heights.
Nor have they received any help from any government entity and they struggle to get ahead only with their effort and sacrifice. They get up very early, take care of their three children and dedicate themselves full time to their business and their clients. The secret of staying for the Melgarejos has been persistence, perseverance, not giving up and sacrificing day by day with one goal in mind, saving money, and opening a chain of Mexican restaurants.
For the Melgarejos, social activities, entertainment, family outings to the park have ended, they are focused on moving forward with their business and opening their own restaurant since in the course of running their winery, they have discovered that sandwiches Mexicans that they prepare, are the most desired and appreciated by their clients. Efraín, Honorina’s husband, is the head chef and between the two of them, they share all the work of maintenance, supplies, administration, cooking, etc.
For these entrepreneurs, the secret has been the persistence, quality, and good price of their products. With the help of their eldest daughter, who was born here and who speaks English, they maintain and grow with determination and integrity, demonstrating once again that New York City and its economy are built and maintained by immigrants.