Thinker’s Notebook: The Christmas Shopping Challenge

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If you are reading this, I am inviting you to take part in this challenge that I’ve created. Are you in? Okay! Let’s get started.

According to ABC News, the average American will spend $700 on gifts this Christmas season. There are currently around 2.64 million people living in Brooklyn. This means that Brooklyn spends around 1.8 billion dollars on Christmas.

Billion. With a B.

Brooklyn has always been a borough of small businesses. Approximately 25% of the city’s small businesses are in Brooklyn: wine stores, boutiques, barbershops. The people that patronize these small businesses are from our communities, as are the workers that are employed in these businesses and, for the most part, so are the owners. Small businesses reflect the very necessary symbiotic relationship between community and industry. Small businesses create jobs, aid in the sharing of culture and cuisine, and strengthen the economy of the community.

As much as the discussion about community always comes with that negative catchphrase, “gentrification,” hyper-commercialism is a bigger threat to traditional Brooklyn communities than gentrification. Every time a Dollar General replaces a bodega, every time a Starbucks replaces a coffee shop, with every Walmart that sprouts in a ten-mile radius, mom-and-pop stores suffer and eventually are forced to close. You may think you want your future to look like drones delivering you pizza and potpourri from Amazon, but without small businesses in your community, the income gap widens, the availability of resources decreases, and all of the accoutrements of community suffer.

This brings me back to the challenge I am offering. Here it is. I challenge every person who reads this to spend $100 with small businesses in their community this holiday season. Take $100 of your gift money and spend it with the boutiques and stores in your community. Simple. If every adult in our readership accepts the challenge, we would be putting $4,000,000 back into our community this holiday season. Where you spend it is on you. How you spend it is on you. But accepting this challenge will help our community businesses continue to serve us; employing our neighbors, providing resources to our families and keeping your Brooklyn looking and feeling the way that you grew up loving, or the way you fell in love with the first time you visited.

So, buy a bottle of Malbec for a co-worker at Bed Vyne Wine and Spirits Shop. Purchase the Lisha Caftan for your sister from Martine’s Dream, or an Acacia Wood Salt and Pepper Mill for Mom from Peace and Riot. You can visit Hip-Hop Closet in the Brooklyn Navy Yard or Brooklyn Circus in Cobble Hill. Take your son to brunch at Peaches or join the hundreds of holiday crawlers at the Kwanzaa Crawl. Use a bit of this holiday season to invest time and money into your favorite shops and eateries right in your community. It will be a twofold blessing. You will be gifting something unique and locally sourced to your family and friends, and you will be giving the gift of sustainability to the shops you support.

So, there it is. 2018 was the “Year of Social Media Challenges.” You had the Shiggy Challenge, and the Level-Up Challenge, and a bunch of other social media challenges. But this? This is a civic challenge. The Christmas Shopping Challenge. Are you in?