By Ilana Weinberger
With new Duane Reades and CVSs opening up shop every year, there is a space issue in NYC. Especially in New York, which is known to be a dog-eat-dog city, more and more of the smaller stores are finding it harder to stay in business in this changing landscape. Brooklyn specifically has seen major changes in the real estate space, with a prime example being Lake Realty’s 1601 Kings Highway in Sheepshead Bay which is currently under construction, that will house tenants such as Modell’s Sporting Goods, CVS, and Planet Fitness. While massive new projects like this one are great for a community’s development, it’s also important for a community to remember its past — its culture and heritage — through smaller shops such as bodegas.
The influx of bigger businesses and chain stores into neighborhoods pose a problem for mom and pop shops around our neighborhood, struggling to stay competitive. The prices of rent in Brooklyn have become comparable to Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. Although this might not matter as much to Duane Reade, obviously this is a deterrent for smaller shops. Some solutions that smaller Brooklyn businesses have been trying so far include moving to cheaper areas within Brooklyn, or moving out of Brooklyn altogether. Other companies are taking a more proactive approach.
One company striving to equal the playing field is National Retail Solutions (NRS,) a technology used by bodegas to provide an inventory management system for bodegas, benefiting both bodega owners and customers. Its rewards program — The BR Club Savings & Rewards program — comes built into the POS (Point of Sale,) allowing bodega owners to offer personalized discounts every month. Both merchants and consumers can enjoy the program at no extra cost. Other unique features include its ability to remind you what you’re running low on by sending you alerts, and managing store analytics so that bodega owners know what to stock. Users create customized profiles on NRS’s app, where they keep what they usually buy at their bodegas, and get reminders on what they need the next time they shop. In this way, NRS increases customer satisfaction and therefore customer loyalty, driving business for bodegas.
There are hundreds of bodegas in Brooklyn, with so many on Bedford alone. If you walk around the corner you’ll most likely see one, where you can stop by for breakfast on your morning commute and pick up a smoothie and granola bar. You can never take away a city’s culture. Culture is the heart of any city, and sometimes protecting your heart takes work.
“NRS was created as a way to fight back against the big guys and protect community heritage by keeping bodegas thriving in communities around New York and beyond,” said Elie Y. Katz, president of NRS. “With about 20 NRS systems in Brooklyn, we have found a concrete way of achieving that goal.”