We rarely hear the voices of actual small business owners. Syd's is one to remember.
This is a warm-up-your-heart local business story about how local businesses warm up the hearts of our neighborhoods.
This is Syd. And his sandwich shop.
Syd Wayman launched his shop after winning a business plan competition. His cheesesteaks and hoagies were making foodies' top-10 lists and providing jobs to people in Crown Heights, a historically low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn.
These are a couple of Syd's customers.
Small business ownership? It's rough.
Syd's had an investor back out and has had to shutter temporarily. And the neighborhood has been changing. Rents are shooting up. In his words:
"Crown Heights is gentrifying and attracting residents who are looking for that "new Brooklyn aesthetic" in the businesses they patronize."
That's a lot to keep up with.
But it's worth it.
"People walk up and say, 'Hey ... what happened? How you doing? What's going on?'
And it's because over the past four years, I was able to establish relationships with people. And that's interesting and unique. It's different.
It's not like there's some corporate store, with some corporate manager, and some corporate employees, just here to achieve their third-quarter sales numbers or whatever.
... That locally owned business that caters to the local needs and desires of the residents, I think, adds a lot of value to a community."
Small businesses do a lot for their neighborhoods:
- Provide great-tasting cheesesteaks — or whatever unique local need they're meeting
- Contribute to economic vitality for the community
- Provide job opportunities to local residents
- Purchase goods and services from other local merchants (not always, of course, but far more likely!)
- Help define the community's character (sorry, Starbucks, you're not really doing that)