Harlem Lanes to close on Saturday


"What I said then and I'll say now, that I thought black business owners were a dying species," said Sharon Joseph, Harlem Lanes Owner.

The most recent casualties in Harlem are the Hue-man Bookstore, and on Saturday the games are over at Harlem Lanes.

"The rising rents make it very difficult for us to continue to do business in Harlem because we're not trying to pass those prices down to our customers," Joseph said.

Those customers were thrilled in 2006 when the first bowling alley opened in Harlem in three decades, and it was the only one in the country with African American women at the helm.

Joseph vowed to offer affordable fun, and did, but paid the price, like others in the area.

By the end of the month, Mo-bay Restaurant is expected to close its doors as a flood of big box stores and chain restaurants drops anchor.

Red Lobster will soon sit next to the Apollo Theater.

Joseph admits she's excited about the changing landscape but insists there must be balance.

"Small businesses and franchises can all exist together but there needs to be a plan, there need to be support, there needs to be funding," Joseph said.

Along 125th Street, 10 years ago, rents started at about $50 per square foot. Now they're roughly $135, and in a few months, some predict as high as $175.

It's forcing many to instead, look on the avenues for rental space, where prices are slightly lower, but Regina Smith says that comes with its own set of challenges.

"We don't have the density here, we don't have offices population that can patronize these businesses," said Regina Smith, Harlem Business Alliance.

Back at Harlem Lanes, Joseph remains optimistic about the future.

"Maybe as African Americans, we'll take this week and we'll look at it and we'll start to think about what we can collaborate and come together and own things and I think that's now we're going to win," Joseph said.

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