Occupy Movement Hurts The “Little Guy’s” Economy
The Occupy Movement says that they're trying to help the "little guy". The irony is that in many cities, their protests are hurting the economy of the small "mom and pop" stores that are located where they have set up camp.
Area businesses nearest to New York's Zuccotti Park, the protest's unofficial campgrounds, say the rally is hurting business.
"People used to come down for their lunch, now the people aren't coming down," says Zhi Wang, a smoothie cart owner stationed at the edge of the park. He pointed at the surrounding skyscrapers, which house some of the world's largest financial institutions and the Nasdaq Stock Market's headquarters.
Wang isn't alone with decreased business due to the protests.
Nearby vendor Abdel Hafeez says his sales of breakfast items like muffins and coffee have fallen by half since the protest began Sept. 17. "Instead of coming through [the park] to get to their buildings, all of my customers go around," says Hafeez. "I wish this is done soon. … Business is very bad.”
The number of other businesses facing similar hardships is unknown. The New York Police Department was still tabulating complaints and didn't know how many had come in at the time this article was published. The Mayor's office didn't return multiple requests for comment.
Sadly, the damage isn't just from what's going on outside the doors of these businesses.
In a restaurant just off the park, a protestor broke a bathroom sink while trying to bathe in it, according to the restaurant owner, who asked to not be identified for fear of reprisal. Demonstrators have been streaming in, asking for hot water, plastic bags, paper products and to use the bathroom. But when one broke the bathroom sink, trouble began.
She tried to limit bathroom use to only paying customers, and protestors threatened to boycott, she says. She decided to shut down the restroom. "I've been here eight years and I've never had to lock the bathroom before," she says. "I'm so frustrated. … They could be here through winter. I'm not sure what I'll do." She says she complained about the protestors to the Alliance for Downtown New York, which manages the downtown business improvement district. That organization refused to comment on the impact protestors have had on local businesses.