The impending arrival of an 80,000 square-foot shopping mall at 82 Bogart Street may signify the end of Bushwick’s “cool” and the start of another wave of gentrification, but one entrepreneur hopes he can at least keep the complex free of national chain stores.
Molasses Books owner Matthew Winn has headed up a grassroots effort to pressure North Development Corp. and Andrew Clemens, the mall’s developers and realtor, to lease the space to local businesses only, eschewing the likes of Urban Outfitters and Guitar Center–both of whom have been mentioned as potential tenants. “I think there is a sort of unanimous feeling of revulsion at the idea of an Urban Outfitters moving in,” said Winn.
To combat the chains, Winn has blasted the realtor with emails and is urging his fellow entrepreneurs to follow suit. “Any…chain would be tone deaf and off the mark for the communities they are trying to cater to,” he said.
Living Gallery head Nyssa Frank had a slightly different take. “It’s ironic…one of my friends said she didn’t want Urban Outfitters here, but she was wearing Urban Outfitters pants,” she said. “I think people want to keep it local not because they’re anti big business, but because that’s what’s charming about Bushwick.”