Brooklynites celebrated the grand opening of two new Bay Ridge businesses over the weekend — a sign for locals that the area is coming back strong from the pandemic.
Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Councilman Justin Brannan and other supporters stood alongside Be Yoga, a health and wellness studio, and L’Angolo di Palermo, a Sicilian market, at twin ribbon-cutting ceremonies this on Dec. 3.
“It’s great to see these new businesses. Small businesses have really been through hell over the past couple of years,” Brannan told Brooklyn Paper.
Be Yoga comes to the neighborhood as part of an expansion of the Staten Island-based studio. Larissa Schiano-Gonzalez, founder of Be Yoga and Dance, is excited to connect with her new neighbors.
Just down the black from the Yoga studio, the new family-run Italian marketplace offers home cooked meals and imported goods from the finest meats to authentic cheeses.
“It was so good to be out there because the whole entire family is working at the store,” Peers said. “The energy and just excitement and that enthusiasm. It’s kind of like how Brooklyn has always been — supporting family-owned small businesses in your community, on your avenue, [that] cater to really a diverse clientele.”
One family member, Alessia Giambanco, has been working alongside her family since they opened on November 1. While they were nervous to start a new venture, Giambanco has enjoyed getting to know their new customers and sharing their unique products with them.
“Of course it’s exciting. It’s something we’ve never done before,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “To be all together, that’s something that you never get to see but we are a really close family. It’s exciting to think we work together and help each other every day.”
Daniel Texeira, president of the Merchants on Third, says with many new enterprises blossoming in the area, he thinks the community has returned to its pre-pandemic state.
“There’s so much going on and I’m really happy to see that,” Texeira said. “From what I see, restaurants are doing well, clothings stores are doing well. It seems that we’ve turned the corner.”
According to Peers, seeing new markets take residence in the area sets promising outlook for the Bay Ridge economy.
“You got it all right there on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge,” he said. “There’s optimism there. When small business owners are taking a risk and making that investment, I think that’s really a good sign. I’m really optimistic about that.”
The Chamber of Commerce has stood alongside independent business owners in the wake of the pandemic, connecting them with the appropriate offices that can help the expand their brand. Last month the chamber hosted a workshop teaching Brooklyn shops how to market themselves and promote their services via social media platforms. In October, they welcomed hospitality companys to an all day food conference, educating attendees on various topics specific to the food and beverage industry.
“We as a community have to support these small businesses so the chamber does its part in trying to get the word out,” Peers said. “Ribbon cuttings are great, but that’s one moment in time. What can we do to support these businesses long-term? That’s helping them to market, promote, to get the word, to connect them with resources that might be able to help them along the way.”
Brannan and Peers alike say it’s up to the community to make sure the local mom and pop shops stay afloat in a commercial driven world.
“Every dollar you spend at a local neighborhood, 70% of that stays local. When you spend on Amazon, none of that is coming back to your community. It’s staying with Amazon,” Brannan said. “Get out there, support your local, independent businesses.”
Be Yoga, located above Green Wellness Spa at 8804 3rd Ave., is open for daily yoga classes and workshops starting at 9:30 am. L’Angolo di Palermo, at 7801 3rd Avenue, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“Bay Ridge is a very special community,” Peers said. “One of the things we learned during COVID was that there’s this fierce sort of neighborhood loyalty that drives a lot of the people who live in Bay Ridge to really shop locally at the mom and pops. That’s what it’s all about. COVID helped us revaluate some of that.”