A first-of-its kind online emporium made up of small businesses is hoping that parents will think “Brooklyn, not Bezos” when it comes to back-to-school shopping.
Cinch Market, Brooklyn’s “everything store,” aims to provide locals with a single source for all their buying needs — while supporting local businesses, said the store’s creator.
“We believe that businesses, to really serve their community, they need to work as a network, and it’s much harder for them these days to fight,” said Maya Komerov, founder and CEO of Cinch Market. “We thought, if we can provide people with the Amazon experience, but utilize local businesses, then everyone wins.”
The products on Cinch are curated for the communities they serve, and allow for Brooklynites to buy from more than one of their favorite local businesses.
Cinch Market prides itself on prioritizing community over profit, and hopes its customers will take advantage of a special “Back to School” section on the website, which was curated by local kids and parents, for local kids and parents, said Komerov.
“The kids talked, and the neighborhood businesses listened,” said Komerov, adding that the timely promotion helped drive home Cinch Market’s model of working together.
“It’s the first time we’re really using this hybrid model to show others what it can look like when you have a team of businesses that work with the community, and respond to what they need,” Komerov said. “That’s what we did. We worked together. We interviewed kids and we got a sense of what they needed to be able to work from home or from school — and how to keep themselves safe. Now, our businesses curated that list and together, have come up with hundreds of products local parents want and need right now.”
To boot, local schools will receive a percentage of each transaction when shoppers check out, Komerov said.
For businesses like Woods Grove in Cobble Hill and Runnin’ Wild Toys in Carroll Gardens, working with Cinch has been a win-win for everyone involved.
“Independent store owners are facing an unprecedented situation,” said Robby Schnall, co-owner of Woods Grove. “Not only are they up against competitors and big-box retailers, but they’re up against what’s going on with COVID-19. It’s a challenging environment.”
Cinch Market approached him and his business partner at exactly the right time, Schnall said.
“We looked at it and said, ‘This seems like a great opportunity,’” Schnall said, “and since we’ve come on board, they’ve been really essential not only in keeping our business alive but in seeing our business grow — which it has in the last couple of weeks and months — all while staying one step ahead of these big guys like Amazon.”
Cinch’s back-to-school project also made sense to Schnall as a parent, he said.
“I’m a father. I have two daughters in high school and middle school. We get it. We know what they need, but to make it even better, our customers are telling us, ‘This is what we want,’” he said.
Anthony Fauci, co-owner of Runnin’ Wild Toys in Carroll Gardens, agreed.
“This is important for our neighborhoods because all of my customers are local families with local children who go to our local schools,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “Not only is the school obviously the center of the community but so are the local businesses.”
Fauci said signing up to be a part of Cinch Market is a choice that has already paid off.
“I have a beautiful website but I don’t get any hits from it. On Cinch, shopping is easy. That’s the beauty of places like Amazon, where you can get your gift card, your children’s school supplies, your shoes, all in one place. It’s just like you’re standing in a mall.”
The business is also a win-win for local customers, whom Fauci and Schnall agreed would almost always prefer to shop local — but who either find it difficult to, or had their every day options taken away from them at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cinch is so important for the local shopper who now can shop local without being inconvenienced,” Fauci said. “Sometimes a customer can’t make it to 100 different stores — sometimes they just don’t want to, and that’s okay, too. I certainly don’t want to Atlantic Avenue to get my knife sharpened, but that’s the closest place to do it. Cinch is so important to people who may not want to be inconvenienced by an in-person shopping trip — and it’s just as important for businesses like Robbie and I’s to survive.”
“The beauty of it is that the money is going back to the local community and the local businesses,” said Schnall.