Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is teaming up with small businesses in the borough to tackle the rise of shoplifting and commercial robberies that have been plaguing retailers for months.
His solution: launching the new “Manhattan Small Business Alliance,” which comprises of local business owners, Business Improvement District (BID) directors, members of law enforcement, and social service providers.
According to Bragg, the group will meet regularly to analyze and review data, draft recommendations, and develop solutions. The alliance will also host a series of focus groups with different types of small businesses, and businesses in specific neighborhoods to ensure that a diversity of perspectives inform the Alliance’s recommendations. Members of the D.A.’s Office, as well as Chauncey Parker, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships, will serve as a law enforcement representatives on the Alliance.
The group will first meet this month and expects to finalize its recommendations in May.
“Our borough’s small businesses are what make Manhattan so special, and I look forward to collaborating closely with our vibrant small business community to develop real solutions to the long-standing public safety issues they face,” Bragg said in a statement. “We’re going to rely on data to target our efforts and we will listen to the voices of small business owners from every corner of Manhattan.”
Shoplifting and commercial robberies have plagued Manhattan businesses for many years. Manhattan business leaders welcomed D.A. Bragg’s commitment to partnering with them to face these challenges head-on.
Ken Giddon, owner of Union Square-based retailer Rothmans Men’s Clothing has been named co-chair of the alliance. “We will listen to the wide range of perspectives on our committee, and ultimately come up with a plan to reduce shoplifting and commercial robberies in the borough,” Giddon said in a statement.
Giddon got involved after dealing with two back-to-back robberies at his own store in December. In a lengthy post on social media Giddon describes the robberies and the events that followed.
“My store, Rothmans on 18th St. and Park Ave., was ransacked/robbed by the same group of young men, twice in the last two weeks of December 2021,” he wrote.
He went on to write that he was “embarrassed” and “violated” by the robberies that tore apart a store he “spent much time creating and curating” even with a security guard on premises. “I also feel guilty that I was not there to protect my team, or change the outcome in any way,” he continued. “For the first time in over three decades of owning my store, I stay up nights trying to process what this means for my business, and ultimately, the City that I love.”
Giddon and his brother Jim, president of Rothmans, are not giving up on their store. “We have been through many challenges over the years, and once again, we will figure out a way to learn from it, and then move forward,” Giddon wrote. “We have a pretty good supply of resilience. We were down and out during 2020, got back up, and then opened an additional store in Manhattan a few months ago. We will go to work today, still loving, but sometimes hating, the greatest city in the world.”
Giddon’s story is not a singular case. These types of smash and grab robberies have been hitting retailers all over Manhattan. A group of thieves bashed the glass front door at Givenchy’s Upper East Side boutique in November. Once inside, they stole 39 purses and two ready-to-wear women’s garments, valued at about $80,000 in total, police said.
In October, two men stole 6 handbags valued at $10,420 from the Christian Louboutin store in the West Village.
In September, a trio of thieves broke through two walls to get into the What Goes Around Comes Around pop-up boutique on Wooster St. in SoHo, stealing $385,000 in designer bags and clothes, according to police.
And in Feb. 2021, a four-person armed robbery crew swarmed the Chanel boutique in SoHo, stealing nearly $200,000 worth of merchandise.