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I'm the Queen of the Click...Brooklynite taking over the world from her computer. MCSE, Martha Stewart Wanna Be.























November 6, 2019

Dear Third Avenue Merchant Steering Committee

 

Tonight, I stood in front of a new business. It belonged to one of my students…..one of my kids, whose now a man with all his hopes and dreams in a small storefront. 

 

While he smiled in front of his family, friends, and his old teacher, I could see his nervousness. When someone doesn’t come from money and they are making it on their own, they are “ALL IN.”  If you have never been “ALL IN,” you wouldn’t know the feeling.  There is no mama or safety net waiting with their checkbook.  

Then I thought about Mohammed from Iraqi House at 7215 – 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge – He’s ALL IN. He’s  the purest soul  in Bay Ridge, yet I have a feeling he didn’t receive any welcome from The Third Avenue Merchants.  

I met Mohammed on the day that the New York Times gave his restaurant a raving review! (We did not know about the review when we entered the restaurants).  The New York Times told us that Mohammed is the cook, server and only employee at his place. I can tell you that we felt like were were  eating in someone’s home and the food was made just for us. If you are reading this, go to Iraqi House and order Fosoulia with Rice (don’t order it if don’t like lamb or you are a vegetarian).  It’s the type of food which will feed your soul and I have even ordered it from Seamless.

 

So I can’t remain silent on the 3rd Avenue BID issue because I live here and these are my people.  In order for me to live here, we had to be ALL IN. I know the feeling well and remember how long it took before we could exhale.

 

If you have talked with store owners on 3rd Avenue, you will know their situations are completely different depending on the type of business they have. While restaurant owners are cheering for the BID, the retail shops aren’t having such an easy time. Their money doesn’t flow so easily and a BID isn’t going to bring them returns like it will for the restaurants.

How do I know? My family was part of a BID in Brooklyn. They didn’t own a restaurant, but because of their location were required to contribute to the BID. That BID joined other BIDs and they continued to put fees on the members….with no returns.

The city does not make it easy to be a shop owner. Between taxes, the tickets for signs and the new monopoly created by NYC Council on which carting companies  can be used (yes Councilman Brannan voted for this….didn’t he tell ya?), I think the 3rd Avenue Merchants should take a step back and support the Merchants – all of them!

Shoutout to the store owners at the two ends of the BID. These store and property owners have never been part of the Merchants Group. They have made it all these years on their own  and they will now be forced to be part of the BID – that isn’t right!  I don’t know what religion you guys practice, but no Christian would do that to their neighbors.

If you read this blog for even a short time, you will know that some of the residents in Bay Ridge are overtaxed and some like my husband and I are REALLY overtaxed.  Someone told me yesterday, they looked my property taxes up because they couldn’t believe it was that high. Newer residents last year actually pay less property tax than we do!

 

 

Last year, I declared that the Third Avenue Merchants needed new PR.  I was not joking – their social media account is terrible.  The 3rd Avenue Merchants Instagram account should have been shared with store owners. People should see specials from 3rd Avenue stores, not photos of steering committee bank manager.  People follow that account to find out about happenings in the neighborhood. You could feature a store a day, but you don’t.  People are influenced by what they see on social media. Give the NO BID group access to that account – it’s free advertising to a community that is already using Instagram! 

When the idea of a BID came up, the pioneers said that this is what the merchants wanted. Four months ago,  the Bid was announced, the pioneers still don’t have enough signatures. If this is what everyone wanted, why didn’t they all sign on?

 

 

Councilman Brannan gave the group money and you could have taken the money and beautified the Avenue with a lot of pots and trees. But it’s not about the greenery…you and I both know that. If it was, the No Bid Store could call out to his people and they would all put $300 of pots and shrubs outside their stores. Brannan had plenty of money and could have put planters up and down the Avenue, but didn’t.  (People requested it on 

Why was the money given to an outside group if all the merchants didn’t want that?   While churches posted the link to the BID’s survey, store owners didn’t even know a BID was being discussed. Property owners received notice, while the merchants didn’t.  Why weren’t they the first people surveyed on their needs? I watched the whole process and I thought, “Who is benefiting from this?”  Merchants who attended the information sessions in the Summer felt slighted as the same information/numbers from the 5th Avenue BID were being used.

The broadcast recently released by RadioFree Bay Ridge doesn’t reflect Bay Ridge or the spirit of this community. Did you intend for RFBR to attack the No Bid leader just because he is speaking up for the merchants?  Those are not comments from community builders.  I’m old skool, from Sunset Park and OLPH taught me to have my neighbor’s backs. RadioFree Bay Ridge reported that money from the 5th Avenue BID was taken from someone. And now the 5th Avenue BID members are paying even higher fees!

 

On Halloween, if you were out and about in Bay Ridge,  you could see how well the store owners took care of the children. When school fundraisers happen, the store owners on 3rd Avenue donate gift cards and prizes, so school functions can thrive. 

 

Why can’t those who oppose the BID work on the Third Avenue Merchants?  Let them do it for a year – if they are horrible at it, form a BID. Who knows maybe by then the government will ease up on property taxes and they will want a BID. A lot changes in a year. They have tech company, do you realize how easy it is to collect Merchant dues with Paypal or Venmo?

 

While we understand you don’t want them to fail, the possibility of them succeeding is a strong. They have two key people that the 3rd Avenue Merchants are missing. One missing component from the Third Avenue Merchants is that you aren’t inclusive. When you make a group, it’s okay to  invite Asian nail salon owners for tea and change it up. I see the No Bid Group may have an advantage to you on this issue. They also have a tech guy!

I moved to Bay Ridge ten years ago because I wanted to be here – not for a BID,  but for the small business owners who call me when they get something new in that they know I would like, give my dogs treats and notice that I am not quite myself when shopping near a holiday.  We support the merchants. We want them to do well, prosper and continue to do business on 3rd Avenue.   

At some point, you had to have questioned, “If this many merchants are unhappy, why are we forcing this upon them?”  Steering Committee, it’s time to put the BID papers away, have your neighbors backs and kickoff the holiday season.

 

 

 

Hugs,
marlene

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