It is sort of nice to get a blast of cool air while schlepping your way through the steamy sidewalks, but it's also wrong—very, very wrong. It's like enjoying a free hit of crack, basically. Despite that relatively new bill (passed in 2008) that fines air-conditioned establishments $200 per door/window left open, some companies are still risking it to lure in customers with their sweet manufactured breeze. (To clarify, under the legislation any business that's 4,000 square feet or larger, or part of a chain with five or more stores in the city, must keep their doors shut when the air conditioning is on.)
According to the NY Times, nine stores in Manhattan and the Bronx have already been fined this summer—they report that the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs has inspected 105 stores, where 26 were issued warnings and 9 were fined (they were already warned last summer). Those stores were Jeans Plus, Jimmy Jazz, Bronx Kidstown and V.I.M. in the Bronx, and Filene’s Basement, DSW, Forever 21, Armani Exchange, and Brooklyn Industries in Manhattan.
As the Times discovered, the doors left open can mean a big difference in temperature change to the outside world—on a 97 degree day, the temperature within 10 feet of one retailer's open door was a cool 79 degrees! As noted last year, there aren't many alternatives, but one Brooklynite said when he was growing up, "We used to see shops with a sign in the window depicting a penguin standing on an iceberg and the words: 'it's COOL inside.'"