November 24, 2013

The Other Side of the Coin: Small Businesses Supporting Their Communities, Kingsbridge Road Merchants Association Hosts 1st Holiday Celebration

Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of supporting local merchants in the Bronx during Small Business Saturday, which occurs after most people do their holiday shopping on Black Friday. The topic did bring up some discussion on Facebook, as some people (rightfully) stated that too many businesses don't do enough to attract or keep their customers. And the wrong mix and attitudes of businesses can bring about resentment and frustration from residents, which drives away people to shop elsewhere.

Small businesses do bring a sense of vibrancy to communities and provide them with goods, services, and local jobs. And when small businesses come together, they can accomplish things that contribute to the character of a neighborhood. This requires businesses to do something that may seem counter-intuitive, and that is think outside of their business to enhance their business. 

Families gathered on Saturday at W. Kingsbridge Road for the
1st Holiday Celebration Event, sponsored by the
Kingsbridge Road Merchants Association

On Saturday the 23rd, the members of the Kingsbridge Road Merchants Association, representing over 35+ businesses on the strip and now going on its third year, gave back to their community and hosted its first ever holiday celebration and tree lighting ceremony. Under the leadership of its president and vice-president, Nancy Fernandez and Christian Ramos, the association put together this family-friendly, free event for residents in the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx. Produced by Marketing & Advertising Solutions (MAS) and hosted by comedian Roman Suarez, over 100 children were treated to a very early Christmas when they received a visit and a gift from Santa in front of the Mirador Restaurant on the corner of Grand Ave. and West Kingsbridge Road. They were even treated to a brief dusting of holiday snow to set the holiday mood for everyone.

Mirador Restaurant, one of the newest members of the
association, played host to Santa and his helpers to bring an
early Christmas to Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx.
Mirador Restaurant, owned by Mr. Jose Estevez, provided the space for Santa and the kids, as well as many of the decorations. Having opened less than a year a go, Mr. Estevez just recently joined the association and said he is used to giving back to the community as much as he works at his business. And he doesn't mind. "Some people have a bad perception of the Bronx, but that's completely not true" he stated. He has managed other restaurants in Manhattan and the Bronx, and he hasn't had any problems with his business in Kingsbridge Heights. "I would be paying more than double the rent for the same space in Manhattan, and I have half the problems here than over there," referring to vandalism that has occurred to decorations and his businesses in Manhattan. "We have ups and downs in this business like everyone else, but I believe the people love that we're here," which makes his decision to support the association even more rewarding.

L to R: Marlene Cintron, BOEDC President, Christian Ramos
Vice-President of KRMA, Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx BP,
Santa (looks familiar), and Nancy Fernandez, President, KRMA
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Assemblyman-elect for the 86th district Victor Pichardo both made an appearance at the event, wishing everyone a happy holidays and their support to the association for its contribution to the community. BP Diaz also plugged how important the proposed Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) development, located across the street at the Kingsbridge Armory, will be for both the community and the association.

MAS, lead by Jacqueline Acevedo, has helped market the association for the last three years and seen the association continue to grow in many ways. Since the early days of sidewalk sales, MAS has helped them in putting together several events and promotions that have brought the community and businesses together. She reached out to both KNIC and Green Mountain Energy, who sponsored the event, and was able to promote it successfully for the association.

And this is what is meant by the other side of the coin regarding small businesses. No one doubts how hard it is and the courage to go out there everyday to make a living, and that customer loyalty is important. But like everything else, businesses have to invest in their customers and community in they want their business to be successful. And if it means a few decorations or having a large-scale festival, find out what your customers want beyond the transaction or two and be a part of what they need for the community to succeed.

For more photos, check out our Facebook Page. We look forward to hearing from you and wish everyone an early happy holidays.

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