BROOKLYN — A local building management company wants new tenants to feel really comfortable in their new environments — by giving out free fixed-gear bicycles.
Joe Wasser, who's owned J Wasser & Co since 2007, started gifting bright, multicolored fixies to new tenants at the company's properties, mostly in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, he said.
He used to give out $200 Ikea or Best Buy gift cards to help tenants kickstart building their homes, but it didn't feel like residents jumped on the idea.
But new tenants, who receive one bike per apartment, seemed to be thrilled with the bikes, Wasser said.
"A bike was something that's great for them to get around with," he said. "Everyone needs a bike in Brooklyn."
The Thruster Fixie bike has a bright green frame, blue and yellow wheels, and a bright orange sticker that says "courtesy of J Wasser & Co." Wasser said he's given out about 60 since he started nine months ago, each worth around $100.
It's not unusual for landlords to dish out incentives to potential renters when the market is stalled, like in the winter. Some have been known to advertise Kindle Fires or flatscreen TV's, while others simply offer a free month's rent in the hopes of attracting more tenants.
But Wasser, 30, said he chose the bike because it "looked cool" and "Brooklyn," he said, and it's how people get around in the borough.
He started the management business wanting to dispel the idea that landlords are scary figures who just want to make money, he said. He hopes that giving a gift upfront shows that he is approachable and available, he said.
"It's helping them to realize that we're people they can speak to," he said.
The company manages 75 properties and more than 1,000 units all over Brooklyn, though most are concentrated in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.
Apartments are posted to sites like Craigslist, Naked Apartments and Trulia, and Wasser is also trying to build up listings on the company's website.
Logan Donaldson, 28, moved into one of Wasser's apartments in Bushwick recently with two roommates after seeing a listing on Craigslist.
He saw the bike gift as a marketing gimmick — but one Donaldson was glad he was a part of, he said.
"I was pretty happy," said Donaldson, who has been meaning to buy a bike.
For John Perez, 40, the bike was a "nice gesture" to receive after renting his two-bedroom in Clinton Hill seven months ago, he said.
He mostly drives and already had a bike, but he's still taken J Wasser & Co's gift on a couple of joy rides around the neighborhood, he said.
The real benefit to renting with Wasser has been how accommodating the company has been, Perez said, adding that it has "by far been the best" management company Perez has ever lived with in his 16 years in New York.
"The bike was a bonus at the end," he said.