NEW YORK — Sisters Anyuta and Inna Zelikson own Inaya Jewelry at Grand Central Terminal, a showcase for the jewelry they design and make. They came from the former Soviet Republic of Belarus in 1992 with their parents to escape anti-Semitism there.
After arriving in Brooklyn, both attended area colleges, but they certainly did not major in jewelry-making. Anyuta discovered it first after attending business school, and then asked Inna to start a business with her. They opened their first store in the West Village in 2007, and in the Lexington Passage at Grand Central two years later.
What You Need To Know
- The MTA Board voted to approve a major rent relief package for small business tenants at Grand Central Terminal
- It includes a rent abatement for all rent from April through July of 2020
- Future rent will be based on revenues through January 2023 or when ridership rates return to 75% of pre-COVID-19 levels
- Grand Central businesses have been struggling due to lack of foot traffic after a substantial dip in commuters coming through the transit hub
Business has not been the same for them or any of the shops and restaurants at the landmark transit hub since coronavirus hit the city, as ridership on the Metro-North Railroad has diminished substantially.
The Zeliksons' shop was closed from mid-March through the end of June, but the sisters say they refused to believe the business they worked so hard to establish would fade away.
"Because we are immigrants and because we are refugees, you know this is not the first adversity for us,” said Anyuta Zelikson.
The Zeliksons are now benefiting from a rent relief package for business owners at Grand Central approved by the MTA Board, after advocacy by elected officials like City Councilman Keith Powers, State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, and State Sen. Brad Hoylman.
"It was impossible for most of them to afford market rent,” said Hoylman, who added that, “We worked together to get the MTA to extend a lifeline to small businesses and that’s exactly what the MTA Board did recently by voting to abate months of past due rent and to charge rent based on revenue moving forward.”
Anyuta and Inna Zelikson say this is a huge boost for them and for the community of small businesses and restaurants at Grand Central Terminal.
"It's not just about saving one little business; it's about giving an opportunity for all of us to wait this out and thrive again, which I know for a fact that we will,” Inna said.
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