Dunkin Donuts, Subway, and Other Chains Continue Their Insidious Creep Across the City, But Slower Than Before

Flickr/Rupert Ganzer
From our old spot at Cooper Square, we could see it, looming green and white and weirdly shiny, like an enormous toilet with corndogs swirling inside it: the 7-Eleven, which touched down on St. Marks Place in April 2012 to general dismay and a little window-smashin'. Now that 7-Eleven has disappeared, as East Village blog EV Grieve was first to report.

It's not much, the disappearance of one 7-Eleven. But it's a symbol of something larger, according to the newest "State of the Chains" report from the Center for an Urban Future, a think tank that studies economic issues. This is their sixth year surveying the number of chain stores across the five boroughs, and report author Christian Gonzalez-Rivera found something surprising. Although the overall number of chain stores grew this year, as it has for the previous five, "the expansion of chain stores across the city slowed considerably," Gonzalez-Rivera writes. There was only a 0.5 percent increase in the number of chain stores that opened locations in New York in 2013, the smallest increase the center has seen since they began the study. So, progress?

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Report Commissioned by Barneys Says Barneys Did Nothing Wrong In Alleged "Shop and Frisk" Incidents

Image via Facebook
Trayon Christian
At the end of last month, luxury department store Barneys found itself facing the wrong kind of publicity, when a black teenager named Trayon Christian said he'd been racially profiled there, detained after buying a belt that someone decided looked too expensive for him. Christian sued the store and the New York Police Department; then 21-year-old Kayla Phillips came forward, shared her own experience of being profiled after buying an expensive handbag, and announced her own plans to sue.

In response, Barneys met with the Reverend Al Sharpton and the Brooklyn chapter of his anti-racist National Action Network and promised to bring in a civil-rights expert, Michael Yaki, who Barneys CEO Mark Lee said would be provided with "with unrestricted access to all aspects of our store operations."

Now Yaki has completed his preliminary report about the Christian and Phillips incidents. And -- surprise! -- it concludes that Barneys "did not request, require, nor initiate" the detainment of either Christian or Phillips. Instead it places the blame on the NYPD.

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Three Women Say They Were Fired From Loehmann's for Being Too Old for Its "New, Youthful Corporate Image"

Image via Pinterest.
Loehmann's new target demographic: figure skaters at the prom.
When I think of Loehmann's, the famed department store, I think of my older female relatives, who have used it as a hunting ground for thousands of years, like a low-impact Jewish safari. But after 92 years in business, the chain has recently been beset with issues; they've filed for bankruptcy twice, in 1999 and 2010, and closed some 20 stores. After they emerged from Chapter 11 for the second time, they found a new CEO, Steven Newman, who's doing his best to make the store attractive to a younger audience with trendy young designers and "fashionable apparel like patterned shorts," per a recent Crain's article about Loehmann's attempted resurrection.

And according to a just-filed lawsuit by three former employees at its Upper West Side location, the company is completing its turnaround by firing older staff members. Bernice Lowe, 57, Angela Fletcher, 54, and Rosemary Mangum, 76, filed suit on November 13 in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleging they were unjustly fired by the Loehmann's last year. Although all of them were given other reasons for their terminations, they suspect the real issue was that they no longer fit into the store's "new, youthful corporate image."

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As Racism Charges Mount, Barneys Agrees to Meet With Civil Rights Group & Jay Z Defends His Work With the Store

Image via Barneys
A $12,500 limited edition double knuckle ring, a collaboration between Hoorsenbuhs and Jay Z.
Barneys is having a horrendous week. You can tell by their press releases, which started out rather snippy and have escalated rapidly into something that looks a lot like panic. Last Thursday, 19-year-old Trayon Christian filed a lawsuit alleging he was racially profiled at the famed Madison Avenue department store, detained by undercover cops after buying a designer belt that store employees apparently didn't believe he could afford. As the story picked up steam, Barneys issued a statement, flatly denying Christian's charges, and adding that the store stood by "our long history in support of all human rights."

Then Kayla Phillips came forward. She's a 21-year-old woman, who, like Christian, is black, and who says she found herself swarmed by police after buying a $2,500 handbag at Barneys.

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Barneys: "No Employee" Was Involved in Detainment of Belt-Buying Black Teen Trayon Christian

Image via Facebook
Trayon Christian
"If you're a nice person and you work hard, you get to go shopping at Barneys. It's the decadent reward." That is, apparently, what Sarah Jessica Parker once told Vanity Fair, and the store proudly uses the quote as its Twitter bio. It's taken on an unpleasantly ironic twinge in the last day, however, after a black teenager named Trayon Christian filed a lawsuit against the store, the city, and the NYPD, saying he was hassled and detained by police after purchasing a $349 Ferragamo belt. The lawsuit quickly went viral, and now Barneys is attempting to do a little damage control.

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Andrew Hyde, the Guy Who Only Owned 15 Things, Has Upsized

Adria Ellis
Imagine minimizing your life to the extent that you have but 15 items in your possession -- and none of them, not a one, is a $65 Dave Eggers shower curtain! We're talking about the very efficient shopping life of "extreme minimalist" Andrew Hyde, who has been written about widely as owning a mere 15 possessions (not counting underwear or socks). We were curious to find out if that was still the case in 2012, and he's written a post detailing what he's acquired since and what he's gotten rid of.

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Here Are Some Guys Walking Around NYC and Rapping About Plaid

Where pastels and Nantucket reds were once the stuff of viral "rap" videos, now, in 2012, we have an ode to plaid, by way of the "Plaid Rap." Why now, why plaid? Michael Krivicka, who came up with the idea for "Plaid Rap," wrote the song lyrics, and shot, directed, and edited the video, told us, "Right now, honestly, you almost have no choice. It's everywhere and it is all the stores offer right now. I'm sure it'll pass and come back again (as a trend) but right now it's huge and that was part of the inspiration."

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Merry Day-After-Christmas! It's Still (Technically) A Holiday

Good morning one and all. How was your Christmas? Did you occupy something? A movie theater perhaps? Though Santa has already been tracked, presents have already been opened, and some of us have had our traditional fill of Chinese food, it's still technically a holiday today, according to the government. So, Merry Christmas, round two! We have compiled some of the things New York City tells us we should expect for this day-after-day.

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Cat Woman Convicted, Will Face Up to 15 Years in Prison

Sketch9thPct133844. cat robbery--300x300.jpg
Last year we watched, aghast but slightly intrigued, as a woman in a cat mask, later identified as Shana Spalding, a/k/a, "Purgatory," the singer in a death metal band called Divine Infamy, robbed high-end boutiques with a feline intensity (and a gun). Her wanted poster was the stuff of great things on the Internet, if her criminal bent was not -- or even if it was. Her spree ended, however, when she was busted leaving Cotelac, a store on Greene Street, in August of 2010. (Prior to that she'd robbed Arche Shoes near Voice HQ and a Body Shop in Astoria -- that time clad in a burka -- though she now claims she didn't commit those two crimes, despite having confessed to the police and pleaded guilty.)

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We're Mad-off as Hell! There's a Site for Frustrated Mets Fans

Are you as sick about the loss of Jose Reyes as I am? Have you had it with the bullshit excuses from the Mets front office about Reyes's injuries? (Didn't Mickey Mantle have a lot of injuries? Would you have signed Mickey at age 28, the age Jose is now?)

Are you angry at the insult to the Mets' best player that they let him leave town without even making him an offer? Have you had enough of this evasive double talk about how Sandy Alderson is going to turn the team around with "Moneyball"? That's the sports media's new catch phrase for strategies that don't work based on histories that never happened. Translated into practical English it means: "Don't spend any money -- see if we luck out and win a few games, then hint that we're geniuses for having done better than expected."

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