The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce on Thursday hosted a virtual forum with corporate leaders, local businesses and community organizations to discuss the future of small businesses in the borough.

Moderated by Rob Walsh, anchor at 1010 WINS, panelists discussed the changes and trends of retail businesses during the pandemic and how it will translate in a post-COVID environment. 

Virtual Forum Panelists. Screenshot

Topics included ways for transitioning to online retail, sanitation of brick-and-mortar establishments and increasing foot traffic.

With safety and sanitation now a priority in the social consciousness due to COVID-19, panelists said certain sanitary practices could become permanent, such as an increase in Purell stations and using UV lights to kill bacteria.    

Jill Dvorak, vice president of content and retail strategy for the National Retail Federation, said that there is a desire for people to go out, but retailers need to communicate with their consumers to assure them that the environments where they plan to shop are safe.

Rob Walsh (right) and Jill Dvorak (Left). Screenshot

“A post-9/11 world gave us a greater sense of physical security, a post-COVID world will give us a greater sense of health security,” said Jeff Chan, senior manager of consumer trends and market innovation of TD Bank.

There were also discussions on the trend of 15-minute walking cities that could revitalize business corridors in Brooklyn, where everything is within an 800-meter radius. Combined with the removal of certain traffic and parking in business districts/ villages, it will allow consumers to move freely, increasing engagement with local businesses.   

The forum broke into several breakout rooms to further discuss different practices that business improvement districts (BIDS) and Local development corporations (LDC) should have, including talks on the intersection between real estate and retail, and a workshop on customer experience. 

Shelley Worrell, the founder of CaribBeing, a multi-role venture that showcases Caribbean culture based in Flatbush, said she was excited to be working with such a diverse group of people as they come up with ideas and solutions that will benefit small business and local communities.

“It’s going to provide creative solutions to those that are new or even existing small business owners, I think it’s a great think tank of different types of resources that can be employed … and propel us post-pandemic,” said Worrell.

Randy Peers, CEO and president of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Screenshot.

Randy Peers, Ceo and president of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said even though the pandemic hit the borough hard, small business owners were getting creative in finding solutions to stay open, like launching their first web-stores and home delivery services.

“Brooklyn ingenuity was all on display in every retail corridor throughout the borough,” said Peers.

CORRECTION: May 3, 10:11am: Shelley Worrell name was incorrectly reported as Shelly Worrell. The correct name is Shelley Worrell.

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York Chan

I am a Brooklyn native and journalism student. I Love to know about what's happening in the world and learn about the different views and lives of people. Writing and media production of video, audio and...

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