BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A Brooklyn business owner is launching a marketing campaign in hopes of bringing together Bed-Stuy’s small businesses and encouraging residents to shop local.
Atim Annette Oton, owner of Calabar Imports on Tompkins Avenue, created “Shop Bed-Stuy” this week to raise awareness of neighborhood shops and drive customers to the area’s cultural sites and restaurants.
The initiative comes after a series of discussions that identified a “disconnect” among businesses and shoppers, she said.
“How do you build a neighborhood? A neighborhood can’t build itself,” Oton said. “It’s about businesses, residents and people who come here.”
“It’s basically trying to get businesses to collaborate together on initiatives across the year and share ideas.”
The campaign is starting out with a digital push using the hashtag “#ShopBedStuy” that owners can use to promote deals and events.
Over the course of the upcoming year, Oton is looking to strategize with stakeholders in order to reach the neighborhood’s demographics that don’t utilize the internet.
Oton, who opened several Calabar Imports locations across the borough and serves as Brooklyn Community Board 8’s economic development chair, hopes the “grassroots movement” can eventually lead to larger projects like an online directory of Bed-Stuy’s shops.
Some of the area’s major commercial corridors receive services and participate in promotional events from organizations like the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District and Bridge Street Development Corporation.
Oton aims to provide an opportunity for shops outside those areas, as well as businesses within the main thoroughfares.
Bed-Stuy has seen an influx of new businesses within recent years, and the campaign is meant to engage and encourage the community, she said.
“It’s meant to be for the entire neighborhood,” Oton added.
“But shopping local doesn’t just mean residents. It’s friends, family, people who live in New York City, even tourists coming in.”
One campaign participant, the Stuyvesant Independent Arts Bazaar, is using its holiday showcase to promote local vendors and help neighbors connect, organizers said.
“It’s the unification of commerce,” said Khadija Tudor, workshop coordinator for the bazaar at the Stuyvesant Mansion. “Many hands working together can accomplish great deals.”
“Aside from all the bureaucracy and budgets, if I support you and you support me, we win. We need to recognize that ‘Yes, I am my neighbor’s keeper.’”