A version of the following letter was mailed to Congresswoman Nita Lowey on March 23. Mr. Newland is awaiting a response.
I have owned and operated Designer One, a woman’s clothing boutique, in Larchmont Village for 35 years. I’m the only small retailer to be nominated by Dee Del Bello and selected for the Westchester County Business Hall of Fame.
Today I’m in the fight of my life to keep my door open. I have laid off my 7 employees in the past 22 months. My wife and I now work 7 days per week.
This “repression” began in May 2007. There was a sudden, sharp drop in sales unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I’ve always maintained that ”Main Street knows before Wall Stree,t” as we are the backbone and driver of the consumer economy.
I’ve been a passionate and engaged leader in the Sound Shore, supporting numerous charities, organizations, schools and art programs. I love what I do for a living and am as passionate and optimistic now as I’ve ever been.
Our current economic climate has been dictated by malfeasance, both on Wall Street and in the banking industry. They have gambled with my money and future and have lost them.
My store sales have fallen more than 45%, my excellent credit with vendors has eroded. I’ve maximized my credit line and filled my credit cards to purchase new merchandise. Optimistically, I have six months before I am forced to close.
This snapshot is indicative of thousands of retailers across Westchester.
Since we work for ourselves, we pay our own medical insurance – $27,000 annually. Our daughter’s college is $40,000 per year. For her education, I saved $400 per month for 18 years and invested in government strips, municipal bonds, stocks and mutual funds. Half of those investments have been lost, forcing me to apply for help from her university. My mortgage payments are $3,200 per month.
These obligations are typical of thousands of small business owners.
My landlord has not abated my store rent, even after I poured $100,000 into improvements. I’ve managed to “re-merchandise” my inventory so 90% is under $200 per item – and received very positive responses from my loyal customers.
In Larchmont-Mamaroneck there is increasing unemployment in the financial and banking industries that employ many of my customers.
We on Main Street have not seen TARP and other stimulus funds trickle down. Retailers have yet to see a lifeline.
I suggest a town hall meeting with you and your constituents in the “ma and pa ” businesses so we can share our immediate needs. It might also serve Timothy Geithner to return to his backyard and listen to us.
I understand a deal is being planned for small businesses co-ordinated with the banks and SBA - but I’ve also read where banks are hesitant to extend themselves to local businesses.
I would love to meet with you – in Westchester or Washington. I would love to help you create an economic summit on Main Street to help revive our American Dream.
I can see the light, and we need our government’s help and financial support to make it through.