Tumblr site tallies the FroYo spread
He prefers to keep his name a mystery, but the man (it's a he, that much we can say) behind the Tumblr blog "Now It's A F**cking FroYo Place," which documents New York retail spaces that have been turned into frozen yogurt shops, says he actually has nothing against frozen yogurt.
"It was just so frustrating to see small businesses disappear, replaced by a flash-in-the-pan trend," he said. "It's really just a perfect symbol of the kind of trendy, ultimately useless businesses that take over the kind of unique shops that used to symbolize a neighborhood."
Small businesses in New York, and particularly in Manhattan, are under siege from upward-spiraling rents and high-end retailers that are willing to pay them. Co-op buildings are now allowed by law to earn more of their revenue off of their ground-floor retail tenants, whereas prior to 2007, they could only make 20 percent of revenue from such tenants, with the remaining 80 percent coming from co-op owners. As leases from 2007 are now expiring, many small businesses are being forced to close or move out of neighborhoods that they've called home for decades.
We talked to the man behind the site about his motivation for starting the blog, and whether he thinks it will make a difference.
Why did you start "Now It's A F**king FroYo Place"?
I've been noticing this kind of turnover for a long time; 10 years ago it was cupcake places, in the wake of Sex and the City, and now this. It'll probably be cronuts or some other shit next.
I don't even think of gentrification as a net evil, but what irritates me is people who move here to live out some TV fantasy version of their 20s (which for some reason seems to involve a lot of trendy desserts) on their parents' dime and then move to the suburbs at 30 with no savings because they spent everything partying in the city, driving up rents and pricing out middle class people.
A while back, I started pointing FroYo places out to my boyfriend when we'd walk around an old neighborhood of ours or somewhere else we hadn't been in a while. I couldn't believe how fast they were taking over. I wanted an outlet for my frustration, and when Google Streetview launched the time-travel feature, I knew that was my opportunity to at least vent about it, even if was just for myself.
How do you find these places?
Some are ones that I walk by and take a photo of or note to look up later (my first post on the shop that replaced Lilliput in SoHo was one of these) and others I look up on the web, and then take a look at what the location used to be.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I don't think I'll accomplish anything. It's an unstoppable force and all I can do is try to make people think about it, which clearly is already irritating some people as I've been told to "get over it." And I will get over it. In my own time, when I accept that everything changes and this is the price we pay for our city being as prosperous and desirable as it is. I completely understand that, as a young professional, I'm part of the problem, and I'm not someone who wants to go back to the good old days of the 70s (I mean, I wasn't even alive, but there is a subset of people who seem to glamorize what was a very difficult time for the city), but that doesn't make it any less sad.
It's not that all the places the FroYo shops are replacing were invaluable assets to the community, but I'm hoping that just the sheer scope and relentlessness of the takeover gives people pause.
Is there any one area you're seeing more affected by this phenomenon?
Of course I assumed it would be worst in Manhattan, but I'm shocked by how much I find in other areas of the city. It does seem to mostly be concentrated in areas with a lot of young transplants and college students, though -- Greenwich and West Villages, and the Upper East and Upper West sides.
Approximately how many examples do you have to date?
I've posted about 22 examples so far and have plenty in the hopper. I've also started taking submissions on Tumblr for anyone who sees this happening in their neighborhoods.
To see all of the posts, visit nowitsafuckingfroyoplace.tumblr.com.
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