Pearl River Mart, the popular three-story NYC Asian department store in Soho, is set to close at the end of the year because the landlord wants five times the current rent for a new lease. Rent is now $100,000 a month. The landlord wants $500,000.
It’s not possible that a business known for its low prices can stay in business with low prices paying that kind of rent.
Pearl River Mart sells just about anything you need for your kitchen, dining room or closet, from Oriental spices and teas to bamboo steamers and electric woks, brocade jackets, brushes and papers for calligraphy, furniture and more. It’s selection of chopsticks is mind-boggling, from one-use throwaways to elegant keepers dipped in 14K gold.
The store stocks more than 17,000 items, and it’s almost impossible to leave without buying something. The owners told Crain’s New York Business they are looking for a space on Canal Street. But the venerable Pearl Paint art supply store on Canal Street closed recently because of a huge rent increase it couldn’t afford.
Pearl River Mart is a family owned business which opened in 1971 in Chinatown and moved to Soho, at 477 Broadway, between Broome and Greene Streets, 12 years ago, when Soho was still gritty and real. Now, the real estate is worth money to international companies for which $500,000 a month rent is lunch money, including Victoria’s Secret, H&M and Apple Retail Store.
But raising the rent by three, four or five times is nothing new. My own father owned a large store on Broadway on the Upper West Side, which he shut down because he couldn’t afford to stay in business with the new lease. The landlord chopped the big store into three smaller ones, each one paying more rent than my father did. That was in the 1980s.
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photo courtesy Crain’s