Kew Gardens group launches Shop Local campaign
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Sep 20, 2016 | 4270 views | 0 0 comments | 178 178 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nathalie Reid, co-owner of Thyme Natural Market
Nathalie Reid, co-owner of Thyme Natural Market
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Local shops are hoping the community will invest in their small businesses with the new Shop Local Kew Gardens campaign.

The month-long campaign, which began last Friday, encourages residents to shop at Kew Gardens businesses. The dozen participating stores are giving away about 2,000 reusable bags that contain information, menus and coupons.

Shop Local Kew Gardens will also have a presence in the fourth annual Kew Gardens Community Arts Day on Sunday, September 25. The last day of the campaign is Monday, October 10.

The bags are designed by children’s book author and Kew Gardens resident David Ezra Stein, and coincides with the city’s drive to decrease the use of plastic bags.

Initial participants include Austin’s Ale House, Ateaz, Dani’s Pizza, C-Town, Dog Days & Cat Nights, Metro Pharmacy, Tikka, Vitelio’s Marketplace, Pink Lily Bakeshop and Selfie Style.

The Buying Up Committee of the local group Karing for Kew Gardens, which aims to improve the neighborhood through a series of small projects, is behind the Shop Local campaign.

Group member and owner of The Potter’s Wheel, Grace Miss-Anker, placed a poster outside of her store with sayings like “find the value in the cost” and “invest in your town.”

“Our Karing for Kew Gardens volunteers are excited to continue our shop local message and the businesses are also expressing an interest,” Miss-Anker said. “This is our first endeavor and we anticipate the community's enthusiastic support in this initiative.”

Competing with stores like Target and Costco has always been a challenge, according to shop owners. They have noticed that some residents would rather drive elsewhere to save money, but ultimately they’re spending around the same amount of money due to transportation costs.

Nathalie Reid, co-owner of Thyme Natural Market, was one of the shop owners who initially decided to create the campaign. Before Reid and her husband took over Thyme Natural Market, she previously worked at the health food store and even started her career as a natural food chef in the store’s kitchen.

While her shop has been on Lefferts Boulevard for more than six years, she sometimes meets customers who say they’ve lived in the community for years but have never come across her store.

“If you’re going to spend $2,000 a month on an apartment, we’re going to be a good grocery store where you can get your stuff,” Reid said.

Prior to the campaign, local businesses including Thyme Natural Market tried to garner more business mostly through signs, fliers and deals. With the new Shop Local campaign, Reid said it was also an opportunity for shop owners to bounce ideas off each other in hopes of bringing in more customers.

“When you look around this neighborhood it really is all about small businesses, and the majority of these people live in the neighborhood,” Reid said. “When you look at these businesses, they are really trying to strive to help the different people of this eclectic community.

“To keep the doors open and to do what we need to do, it’s not just about necessity but it’s a labor of love,” Reid added. “We try to have everyone working at our store available and conscious of what we’re trying to do.”

To bring more of a “family atmosphere” to the store, Reid and her staff try to familiarize themselves with as many customers as possible. And while the store doesn’t aim to compete with the local Trader Joe’s, Reid often heads to the supermarket giant to compare prices.

Additionally, she often purchases products based on customer requests and tries to stock her store with items that will help her customers’ particular needs, whether they are looking for vegan options or require a special diet for an illness. The store also employed a nutritionist to assist customers.

“What we’re really trying to do is make people understand that it’s right here under your nose, so come and check us out to see what we’re offering everybody,” Reid said.

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