In NYC, calls to save small shops amid chains' rise; debate on city's character, free market

New York is increasingly becoming chain store city. But some activists and lawmakers want to make sure small shops still have a place in the Big Apple.

They're proposing new rent-renewal rights for small businesses that they see as saving the personality of the city.

That's spurring debate between those who feel New York's distinctiveness is at stake and others who say the changing retail landscape represents the free market at work.

Small businesses — and commercial rent control proposals — have come and gone in New York for decades. But a number of well-known local haunts have closed their doors in recent years.

Meanwhile, the policy think tank the Center for an Urban Future says national chains have expanded in New York City for six straight years.