We all know the best way to support our fellow Brooklynites who own small businesses is to drop coin at their stores.

But there’s a bunch of other things we can also be doing in between pay days that can really help our local businesses — and neighborhoods — thrive.

When we shop locally, we improve the quality of our Brooklyn neighborhoods by multiples.

Sol Sips owner Francesca Chaney outside her restaurant in Bushwick.
Sol Sips owner Francesca Chaney outside her restaurant in Bushwick. Photo: Jessy Edwards for BK Reader.

That’s because three times more money returns to the local economy when you shop locally versus from big box stores, while eating at locally owned restaurants brings in two times more money.

We have power and influence in not only the way we use our wallets, but our voices, our social media, our example and even our patience.

Here’s 7 completely free ways to support Brooklyn’s local businesses this season (on top of splashing the cash, of course!).

1. Spread the word

Does your bodega do the best gyros? Is there one local store you always go to when you’re stuck for gift ideas? A florist who always remembers your name? Let ’em know.

A word-of-mouth recommendation from a happy customer is still one of the most powerful endorsements a small business can get. If you let one person know about the business, and they both let one person know, that’s already three new potential customers right there.

2. Engage with local businesses on social media

We all know how hard it is to build a following on social media. But Brooklyn small businesses are out there doing their best to highlight their products and services, and why you should choose them over multinational retail giants who have big dollars for digital ads.

Support Brooklyn businesses by sharing their posts on social media every once in a while.

If you like it, leave a good review! Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

The way algorithms work on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms means that every time you interact with a business account — even if you just like or comment on a post — that account is going to be exposed to many more eyeballs, and potential customers.

If you like a piece of content a small business posts to social media, let them know. Sometimes it can be hard for business owners to know what is resonating with their audience. As always, communication is key.

3. Share BK Reader‘s stories on amazing local business owners

BK Reader often profiles the inspiring stories of our local business owners. If you like or are inspired by what you read, share the love so others can get inspired to visit the store, and maybe even start their own local shops.

Recent stories on local businesses doing great work in our communities include the story of a Bed-Stuy couple who met over a red rose 32 years ago and just opened a florist shop, the story of a Brooklyn woman who went from scrubbing toilets to running her own sneaker cleaning business, the Clinton Hill fish shop owner who knows everyone’s names, the Bushwick woman who put Vietnamese coffee on the map, and the Flatbush couple who own a shop and cafe so cool you never need to leave the neighborhood.

Olga and Dezzie Ligon at Verdure Florist in Bed-Stuy. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

4. Attend events hosted in your neighborhood

It’s as easy as showing up. When local business owners hold pop-ups, block parties and holiday markets, even just showing your face can make a huge difference. Looking busy can create a buzz and attract other customers.

Plus, the more successful the events are, the more chance we have of getting to have them again, creating a lively and connected neighborhood. Check out BK Reader‘s video of this past summer’s TAMA Fest in Bed-Stuy to see why.

TAMA Fest. Photo: BK Reader

This December, consider checking out one of the holiday markets happening in Brooklyn. Many of the weekend markets also include performances, live music, pictures with Santa, and workshops for those who want to make their own gifts and holiday decor. Here’s eight local markets to get you started.

5. Leave good reviews

What do many of us do before trying a new restaurant or salon? Check out the reviews. We can elevate the profiles of our favorite local businesses from the comfort of home simply by leaving them good reviews on Facebook, Google and other online ordering platforms.

Those businesses can even use those good reviews as testimonials for their websites in future.

Cheryl Bowers runs her own sneaker cleaning business. Photo: Jessy Edwards for BK Reader.

6. Be patient with small businesses

Sometimes service is slow and mistakes can happen. Just as a good review can boost a business, a bad review can be a death knell for a local store.

Remember when dealing with our local businesses that it’s been a tough couple of years to stay afloat: people have lost staff, barely scraped by financially and are for the most part doing their best.

If you have an issue with the service at a local store, it’s likely they’d appreciate hearing the feedback from you directly, instead of seeing it circulated on social media without them having a chance to make it right.

7. Research where you can swap big box purchases for local ones

Shifting even 10 or 20% of your weekly shopping budget to local stores can make a huge difference to the local economy, says Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand, an organization that provides free marketing support to thousands of small businesses across the country.

A church thrift store of amazing finds at 1170 Bushwick Ave. Photo: Jessy Edwards for BK Reader

Consider where you might be able to swap certain purchases you buy online from big box retailers with local stores.

For example, while you might get all your dog food delivered on Chewy, instead of buying the toys there, too, swap that spend for taking your dog into a local pet store for fun treats. Every choice can make a difference.

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

Join the Conversation

1

  1. This is an excellent story! Such small but practical ways for all of us to support small businesses and be a positive voice in our community!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.