Meeting held on what to do about all the vacant storefronts in NYC

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With so many vacant storefronts throughout New York City, a meeting was held Thursday night to discuss how to revitalize neighborhoods.

The organization UWS Save Our Stores hosted a Town Hall meeting on Manhattan's Upper West Side to spotlight the problem.

Mom and pop stores like Beacon Paint and Hardware have been doing business for more than a century. But now on many days, all there is to do is watch the door and wait.

"It's discouraging," said Steven Stark, who owns the place with his brother, like their dad before them.

They have watched their neighbors drop like flies, ravaged by the likes of Amazon, which he fears has changed the habits of the customers they need to survive.

"You can get anything, and you can get it like, later today," said Stark. "If you need something you just look online, that's the way people do it."

But Beacon Paint has already survived a lot. They thought their days might really be numbered when the big chain Lowe's opened up a few blocks away.

But even Lowe's couldn't do business in the neighborhood. They were gone within three years. And now the corner of 68th and Columbus looks empty.

Thursday night, members of the Upper West Side community packed into a room and listened to the ideas of elected officials on how to stop the bleeding.

But Steve's brother Bruce is doubtful that's even possible when all you have to do to buy anything, he says, is click.

"People are comparing price," said Bruce Stark. "My price to Amazon's price and they get indignant that I'm higher sometimes."

Business owners say there's simply no way they can match online prices, not with their own costs of doing business constantly on the rise.

On one block of Columbus Avenue, even Duane Reade, Starbucks and a Chase Bank have all closed.

So what's Beacon Paint to do? "Honestly don't know, hopefully we'll be able to keep going," said Steve, who says hope is really all he has.

Hope that neighbors tired of empty storefronts might just be willing to spend a few more bucks for that piece of hardware or pack of batteries.

If not, they too may have to close up shop, for good.

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