Greek American business owners and their supporters are organizing to oppose a proposed ban of the sale of fur in New York City that was introduced in the City Council on March 28th.
Initially put forward by Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council members Mark Levine, Fernando Cabrera, Justin Brannan, Helen Rosenthal and Robert Holden, the proposal has since been moved to the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing for further discussion, which will take place on May 15th.
But the impact, according to opponents of the ban, will be felt the most on the historic generations-old Greek community, which comprises more than half of the fur business in New York City.
First generation Greek American Nick Pologeorgis is one of the businesses that will be impacted, according to an interview he gave to a local news channel.
“I’m concerned,” said Pologeorgis. “For 40 years, we’ve only known one trade. Now somebody wants to put us out of business.”
Pologeorgis’ father, who emigrated from Greece, started the fur design and sales business in the city’s “Fur District” nearly 60 years ago.
“My employees are nervous,” he said. “If you’re 55 or 50 and all you’ve trained to do is be a fur worker, what are you going to do?”
Pologeorgis isn’t alone. The majority of the shops in Fur district are Greek owned, with families coming from Kastoria, in northern Greece whose only skills are in the fur business.
Opponents of the ban are using economic facts to fight the city council members’ proposals, citing the potential loss of more than 1,000 jobs and $400 million in tax revenues.
Organizers have created the @furnyc Twitter account and are going after the City Council members who are trying to pass the ban, citing statistics and misconceptions, including an attack on the claims that fake fur is better for the environment.