Sunday, October 28, 2012

hate respect

did you read this article about the two guys who started the brooklyn flea?  you really should.

i was just a hodgepodge of emotions after reading it:  jealous because they are so clever; impressed because they've managed to sustain profit while growing other entrepreneuers' businesses; and filled with resentment because it encapsulates so many things i resent about brooklyn, e.g., the precious artisanness; white people capitalizing off of brooklyn's "realness" and "coolness", aka, the authenticity these guys would never be able to generate independently, but probably is also what (reluctantly) brought me to this borough.

there's a reason why i don't still live in queens, aside from the complicated commute.

anyway, one of the two guys became the king of artsy fartsy brooklyn thusly:

As a vice president for hedge fund development at Merrill Lynch, Mr. Butler was so bored at work that he started a blog in 2004 to chronicle the renovation of his $1 million brownstone in Clinton Hill, writing anonymously. The blog took on cult status, and Mr. Butler revealed his identity in 2007, shortly after he left Wall Street (with his bonus) to make Brownstoner a full-time business. 

he and his partner were really strategic and smart when launching the brooklyn flea.  i mean, talk about synergy--the two used brownstoner to promote the flea to its thousands of readers. 

after launching the flea, they also created smorgasburg, a food truck/food stand haven in wiliamsburg.  now the two are partnering with whole foods to further promote those food vendors:

Last week, coolness made the reverse commute. The two men began a partnership with the upscale food retailer Whole Foods Market that will bring one vendor a month to the second floor of Whole Foods’ Bowery store in Manhattan. In February, a retail stand, also on the floor, will begin selling packaged items from other Smorgasburg vendors. The plan is for the relationship to continue in Brooklyn when Whole Foods opens in Gowanus and Williamsburg in the next two years. 

and in crown heights, they're venturing into real estate development, which will further promote their whole DIY food "brand," so to speak.  and they financed it through a mix of government and private funding.  

At the time, the $14 million asking price for the Studebaker Service Station, then being used for storing legal records, discouraged Mr. Butler. But he sought creative ways to finance it. His brother-in-law at Goldman Sachs gave him an e-mail address for someone at the bank’s Urban Investment Group, which seeks to invigorate underserved neighborhoods with reasonably priced housing and mixed-use properties.
“It was clear to us that he had a really great idea to transform the work he had been doing in the Brooklyn Flea, and he needed a way to take that way to the next level,” said Alicia Glen, the managing director of the group. 

To offset Mr. Butler’s construction inexperience and to provide capital, Goldman Sachs connected Mr. Butler with BFC Partners, which built the striking Toren apartment building in Downtown Brooklyn. 

In 2011, Mr. Markowitz committed $1.5 million to the construction of a kitchen incubator, provided the location was in central Brooklyn. The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which chose Third Ward, a creative center for freelance artists in Bushwick, to run the incubator, is managing the project alongside similar ones in Long Island City, Queens, and East Harlem. Construction is to begin in several weeks. 

In addition to the ground-floor kitchen and classroom space, the second floor will house office space for the administrative, creative and production needs of emerging food businesses. On the third and fourth floors, Mr. Butler is seeking Dumbo-overflow technology and design tenants, hoping to stimulate a changing neighborhood. 

Because the young professionals in Crown Heights will need a place to unwind, Mr. Butler and Mr. Demby, with separate investors, plan to create their Smorgasburg-branded beer hall in the adjacent 9,000-square-foot space, which will also house a kitchen for food vendors they select from the market. From the inside, it will link to the incubator, to become — pardon the expression, says Mr. Butler — “a real foodie hub.”  

now you see what i mean, right?  we've all been asleep at the wheels while these guys have been launching a veritable empire.  and they've been just incredibly smart about extending but not diluting their "brand," whatever the hell it may be.  

and now you're conflicted, too.

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