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Neighborhood Watch

Around the Block: The Business of a Neighborhood takes us on an odyssey of business success, failure and survival in one New York City community.

This story appears in the March 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Is the american dream still achievable? That's the question underlying Around the Block: The Business of a Neighborhood (Harcourt Brace & Co.), Tom Shachtman's account of a year in the life of one group of New York City businesses, beginning April 13, 1993. The protagonists are not Fortune 500 CEOs but, rather, local dry cleaners, shop owners and the like. In this excerpt, Shachtman writes of one former high school science teacher who gambles his life savings to become an eyewear entrepreneur, and a pair of struggling restaurateurs who hope their newly retooled establishment will pull in more neighborhood patrons. It's the stuff of real-life, nitty-gritty entrepreneurship--and dreams.

1993--Sight on Seventh, scheduled to open May 15 on the east side of Seventh Avenue, is the brainchild of a former Long Island science teacher. Myron Michaels retains the studious and inquisitive air of the science classroom, leavened with ebullience and energy. Middle-aged, with thinning hair, Michaels wears crisp shirts and, of course, very stylish eyewear. Before signing his lease, he recalls, "I went down to the Bureau of Records and worked the computer, calling up demographic data, foot-traffic patterns, that sort of thing." The results of his research excited him: The residents in the area were for the most part middle class, relatively young, but with significant disposable income. To be just a few steps from [clothing store] Barney's, he believes, will mean many potential customers already primed to buy quality, stylish merchandise.

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