Like for many of you, Fort Greene drew us in. We were attracted to its diversity, tolerance, open-mindedness, 19th-century buildings, history, Abolitionist roots, Fort Greene Park, the Farmers’ Market. When Thirst opened in 2006, there was room, a hunger, even, for small, quirky, businesses like ours.
We moved to Fort Greene, and then opened our shop here, because we wanted to live and work in a flavorful, creative community where people got along regardless of their race, sexual orientation or faith (or lack thereof). The Fort Greene historic neighborhood feels like a little oasis. And the original election of Barack Obama was a high point. I’ll never forget my sense of euphoric disbelief when it became official, the jubilant scene on Dekalb, the spontaneous shrieks of happiness I heard from my neighbor’s windows as we made our way home late that night.
In the more than ten years that we’ve lived here we’ve seen businesses open (Greenlight Bookstore, Roman’s), close (L’Epicerie, Tillie’s), and some open and close (Urban Spring, Bonita). On Myrtle, chains like Walgreens and Starbucks have arrived. And all around the periphery of our neighborhood, development booms. Towers dwarf what used to be our major landmark, the Williamsburg Bank Clock Tower now One Hanson Place. Barclays has become an institution, and what was once called the Atlantic Yards inches closer to reality. All around us new developments have gone up, and new ones are going up.
On the one hand, I feel, more than ever, that this is our home. On the other, I don’t recognize it and fear that many of our neighborhood’s small, independent shopkeepers will eventually get replaced by franchises, chain stores and banks or will simply sit empty.
This situation has been happening, and is happening, all around New York City. If you want to help keep the small neighborhood businesses that make New York City what it is, get involved with #SaveNYC and Support the Small Business Survival Act. Also write to the Mayor, the Speaker, your Council Member! Make some noise.