PLEASE SHOP LOCAL! Rise Up Red Zone Launched to Support Struggling Local Businesses [VIDEOS & PHOTOS]

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(By: Sandy Eller)

The financial impact of the pandemic has left its devastating mark on small businesses everywhere, with countless people seeing their life’s work decimated by lingering lockdowns. That impact has been profoundly greater in New York’s red zones, where small businesses deemed non-essential by Governor Andrew Cuomo were gasping for breath after being closed for months last spring, only to find themselves at the center of a second shutdown this fall that lasted an additional four and a half weeks.

Enter the Rise Up Red Zone initiative launched by activist Chaskel Bennett in tandem with the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition and the WhoWeAre Network as a grassroots movement to support local businesses in areas that had been designated as red zones. Bennett, the FJCC co-founder said that he has spent numerous hours on the phone listening to small business owners who have tearfully recounted their struggles to make ends meet.

“I know their stories because they have called me for help,” said Bennett. “They are men and women of all ages, from all backgrounds, with different life circumstances, but despite their diversity their stories are the same – they are honest, hard working people, who have invested blood, sweat and tears to build businesses that would provide for their families. But to be perfectly honest, many aren’t sure that they are going to be able to make it and I can tell you one thing, they can’t do it alone.”

Within hours of its creation, dozens of stores in Flatbush have already joined Rise Up Red Zone, and calls have come from activists in Queens and Monsey looking to expand the initiative into their community’s. Kidichic owner Galit Winer, who has several stores that were subjected to the protracted lockdowns, noted that stores that had to close because of the lockdowns faced a painful ripple effect, one that potentially affected their landlords, employees and other community members. Having experienced the financial realities of the lockdown as a small business owner, Winer emphasized the importance of shopping locally in order to help stores stay afloat.

“We are all in survival mode,” said Winer. “We want to pay our bills and we are asking people to please support local businesses. Go buy that measuring cup in a local store or pick up that pair of socks or kippa your son needs – even small purchases make a difference and especially now with Chanukah coming up and people buying clothing, gifts and other items, we really need our people and then some to support us.”

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch has used social media to highlight the plight of small business owners in the local area over the past several weeks. He applauded Rise Up Red Zone for its efforts to promote and strengthen local commerce and called on the public to spend their dollars not on Amazon but in local stores, calling them the lifeblood of our community.

“Please go out and support our small businesses,” said Deutsch. “They have been suffering for way too long and now its time for them to recoup those losses.”

Shopping locally also brings with it the opportunity to help friends, neighbors and relatives through what has been an unusually difficult time, noted Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein.

“We are all in this together and at the end of the day, when our local small businesses thrive, our community thrives,” said Eichenstein. “We need to look out for each other and be there for each other.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)



2 COMMENTS

  1. Can you make a list of these store’s websites for people living out of town or people who are still nervous to go to stores so they can order through them instead of ordering everything on Amazon? If they would have a free shipping package for a bunch of frum websites like one gets with Amazon Prime then people would be happy to use them! It would be a once a year charge and you get free shipping on all the things from all the sites/stores who are part of the project!

  2. Seeing our politicians campaigning for such an important issue, is really heartwarming. It shows the care & outreach they do to help the community to get together to help each other, so we should be able to survive & thrive in such tough and struggling times, kudos!

    There is one piece of thought that I’d like to share with you; politicians, media outlets & readers. Taking a stroll down the busy Boro Park streets, you’ll pass by many stores; clothing stores, Judaica stores, grocery stores, bakery stores, etc. Among these one will also notice a unique industry that has many stores spread out on the most expensive avenues in the neighborhood, which is the internet kiosks.

    The fact that there are that many internet kiosks in our neighborhood, located on expensive avenues & they still survive, shows that countless people living here with no internet access, in fact, we don’t need any proof at all, whoever passes by such a store at any hour of the day (or night) and peaks in, will see women sitting there with strollers using the computers.

    These locations have strong filters on the computers, & I highly doubt that the people sitting there for hours on end, constantly refilling their account because they are running out of time, are simply sending and receiving emails.

    They shop.

    Shop. Return. Shop. Shop & return.

    Now, the million-dollar question is, why? Why do they do that? Never mind why they do not think of their brothers & sisters struggling to keep their stores up and running to be able to support their families, why does it pay for them? They don’t have the convenience of shopping “at the comfort of their home”. They get dressed, make the kids ready, squeeze themselves into a small cubicle with a carriage, spend a lot of time & money at the kiosk, when right next door they have a comfortable store with real people serving them, a store where they can try on the outfits, see them, feel them & compare various cloths side by side, why do they do this? Are all of the Boro Park residents out of their minds? Do they choose hassle over comfort? Virtual views over real feel?

    The answer is no, thousands have people have not lost their minds, nobody is choosing discomfort and hassle over convenience & practicality. It is the store owners that literally push out the customers of their stores, they might shout on top of their lungs that the people should come in & shop, but with their hands, they push ‘em out.

    It is no secret that the return policies at our local stores, or rather said the non-return policy, is what pushes away customers by force. Nobody expects a small family owned store servicing the local community, to have return policies that are equivalent to those of the big online retailers, but from that to this? Not only will they not take back an item a week after purchasing it, they will not even take it back a day or even an hour after leaving the store!

    As many people that shop at the local stores, that’s how many ridiculous stories there are on the (non) return policies in our community. I am sure that every person living here has drawers full of cloths that were not be able to be used, because their child was in school when they bought the specific piece of cloths, so they brought it home to see if it fits, it did not, end of story.

    Just to mention one story, and a true one. When Mrs. C. H. walked into a store in Boro Park to get something for her younger ones, they were in school, so she asked the store owner if she can take it home to see how it suites her children, he refused. She was in a dilemma, her kids need something to wear, she can’t come & shop after the kids come home from school as she has a full household to take care of, to take the kids out of school just to go shop is also not an option, she asked again if she could just bring it home for the night to see if it is good and ask her Mrs. know-it-all sister-in-law for her opinion. Miraculously the store agreed that she take it home.

    The next day, when she wanted to bring it back, the storeowner simply said that there are no returns. She was shocked, he told her yesterday that she can take it home for the night, when he was asked about it, he said “but I never said she can she bring it back afterwards…”

    I might sound a bit cynical, but I am very sincere, perhaps instead of investing funds in a campaign to explain & convince our residence about the importance of shopping local –a thing that everybody knows and wants to do from their own good will. A campaign should be launched to educate the local shop owners some simple business strategies in customer service, a thing that will change the entire outcome.